DETROIT -- Chevrolet has entered a five-year sponsorship deal with Britain's Manchester United soccer club as part of General Motors' effort to broaden the global appeal of its biggest brand, the automaker said today.
The move to become Manchester's official automotive partner aligns Chevrolet with one of the world's most-recognizable franchises and with the globe's most popular sport.
The team has a huge following not only in Europe, where Chevrolet sales are growing but remain small, but also in Asia and other regions.
Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. GM officials are expected to provide additional details of the sponsorship during a press conference later Thursday.
Manchester United's 659 million followers make it the world's "most popular club," according to a study carried out for the team by market research company Kantar last year, when the club won the Barclays Premier League.
In the study, 54,000 people in 39 countries were asked which team -- or teams -- they followed. Most of the team's fans reside outside of the Americas in key markets targeted by Chevrolet.
The new sponsorship follows two recent high profile decisions by GM that caused a stir in advertising and media circles.
In separate moves, GM pulled its paid advertising from Facebook and said it decided not to advertise during the 2013 Super Bowl.
The Manchester deal comes as GM seeks to accelerate Chevy sales in Europe and globally.
Last month, GM said Chevrolet's first-quarter sales hit 1.2 million worldwide, a quarterly record and a 7 percent jump from a year earlier.
In 2011, Chevrolet sold a record 4.76 million cars and light trucks worldwide.
"Manchester United has some of the most passionate supporters of any sporting club in the world," GM global marketing chief Joel Ewanick said in a statement. GM "is fully committed to putting these fans at the center of everything we do."
Bloomberg, Automotive News Europe contributed to this report