MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact and Toronto FC will have something in common in Major League Soccer next season — the same sponsor’s logo on the front of their shirts.
The Impact announced Tuesday they have a five-year agreement with the Bank of Montreal to become lead sponsor when they join MLS as an expansion team in 2012.
TFC renewed its sponsorship deal with the bank for six years last July, so two clubs destined by geography and history to become rivals on the field will both have the BMO logo on their shirts.
"You’ll be able to distinguish the two — one’s red (Toronto) and one’s blue (Montreal), so we’re OK with that," said Impact president Joey Saputo. "We’ll always have a good rivalry with Toronto."
BMO is also a sponsor of the Vancouver Whitecaps, although logo rights for their shirts are held by Bell.
It is common in Europe and Latin America for two teams in a league to wear the same logo. In the English Premiership this season, the shirts of Aston Villa and Fulham both had online broker FX Pro.
Jacques Menard, president of BMO Financial Group, said he wouldn’t mind if all three Canadian-based MLS teams one day wore the bank’s logo.
"In South America and Europe they’re not confused," he said. "We’re not used to it as much in Canada. So, ‘welcome to the world’ would be my comment on that one.
"I look forward to those games when we (the Impact) host them (TFC) here and when we play there. It’ll make great pictures and it’ll make the case that BMO is the bank for soccer in Canada."
Financial terms were not announced, but Menard said it is similar to the deals with Toronto and Vancouver. Their contracts are reportedly worth about $4 million per season.
The bank also has naming rights for TFC’s stadium, BMO Field.
Like BMO’s arrangement in Toronto, the deal includes participation of some of the youth teams it sponsors. About 100 young players per game will be invited to act as ball retrievers, to escort players onto the field and other activities.
"The Impact has issues this year, but they’ve won a number of championships, they’re supported by a very strong family and with the new stadium, the draft, I think the Impact will contribute a great deal to soccer in Canada," added Menard.
The Impact are struggling through their last season in the North American Soccer League, with two wins, two draws and six defeats.
Saputo declined to answer questions about the club’s performance.
All that was missing from their news conference was a shirt bearing the new design.
Saputo said the team will keep its blue and white with red team colours, but it will be "completely different from what we have now.
"It’s going to have hints of Montreal and Quebec. But the colour remains the same."
He said the team will keep the name Montreal Impact.
And their home field, which is to be expanded from 13,000 to 20,000 seats by next season, will still be called Saputo Stadium.
The BMO logo will also be displayed in a section of the stadium, on the players’ bench, at the stadium’s main entrance and on tickets.