Schalke 04 and Gazprom extend shirt sponsor deal

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Schalke 04 and Russian firm Gazprom have signed a five-year extension to their sponsorship deal worth 100 million euros which looks to have eased the German club's cash problems, it was reported Saturday.

Last month it was revealed the Gelsenkirchen-based club had debts of up to 230 million euros, but the new sponsorship deal with the Russian gas suppliers looks to have safeguarded the Bundesliga side's future.

The current Gazprom deal, which had been due to expire in 2012, will now run until 2017 and is worth up to 130 million euros if Schalke is successful in the Bundesliga and the Champions League.

"We have closed the deal for the next five years," Clemens Toennies, chairman of Schalke's advisory board, told German daily Bild.

"It will improve conditions for us and I explained that on my last trip to Moscow, because this deal will help stabilise the club."

Schalke coach Felix Magath had warned last month they may have to sell their top players in a bid to balance the books, but the new deal looks to have eased those fears.

"This is a very positive signal for the club," admitted Magath, whose side are fourth in the table and play Hanover 96 at Gelsenkirchen's Veltins Arena on Saturday afternoon.

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