Mobile phone company Vodafone, which has sponsored Manchester United since 2000, has decided to end its four-year shirt deal with the Premier League club.

The latest deal, worth about £9m per year, began only last season and will now end in May 2006.

It is understood that Vodafone will now focus on sponsoring the Champions League.

Manchester United says it is confident of securing a new deal in coming months.

United commercial director Andy Anson said: “The Manchester United shirt is the most iconic in sport.

“The club feels that in the current market there is a genuine chance to attract significant additional investment.”

In July this year, the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust urged Vodafone to end its sponsorship deal with United as it was a “tainted brand” following the takeover of Malccolm Glazer.

Subscribe to World Soccer – The essential football magazine