Chelsea, Sauber agree to partnership deal

Associated Press
Chelsea's Fernando Torres celebrates his 3rd goal scored against Queens Park Rangers during their English Premier League soccer match at the Stamford Bridge Stadium, London, Sunday, April 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Tom Hevezi)
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Chelsea's Fernando Torres celebrates his 3rd goal scored against Queens Park Rangers during their English Premier League soccer match at the Stamford Bridge Stadium, London, Sunday, April 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Tom Hevezi)

LONDON (AP) — The lucrative worlds of soccer and Formula One joined forces Monday when Chelsea and Sauber announced a deal that shed light on the unexplained inscriptions on the Swiss team's cars at recent races.

The partnership will see the Champions League finalists and Sauber exchange knowledge in sport science, launch joint commercial initiatives, and share merchandising, marketing and sponsorship opportunities.

Chelsea's crest will appear on Sauber's cars beginning with next week's Spanish Grand Prix, while the Premier League club will show the Sauber logo on advertising boards and interview walls at its home matches, with the aim of increasing the market presence of the teams outside their own sports.

"This is an innovative partnership that will see a football club link up with an F1 team like never before, bringing together two of the world's biggest sports and uniting our fans," Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay said.

The announcement makes it clear that Sauber was hinting at the deal with Chelsea, which is nicknamed the Blues, when it had "Out of the Blue" and "True Blue" written on the engine covers of the cars driven by Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi in the last two races, in China and Bahrain.

"The football club benefits from Formula One's television reach which, compared with the Premier League, is much higher and more international," Sauber said in a statement. "Particularly in Asia, Formula One enjoys enormous TV presence and, not least thanks to (Mexican) Sergio Perez, is currently captivating more and more fans in Latin America, as well."

Chelsea, which is managed by Swiss-born Italian coach Roberto Di Matteo, beat Barcelona on aggregate last week to reach the Champions League final. It will play Bayern Munich on May 19.

Sauber has picked up a total of 31 points from the opening four races of the 2012 F1 season.

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