Just hours ago in the 1899 Auditorium, FC Barcelona’s president Sandro Rosell announced the details of the club’s lucrative deal with Qatar Airways. Along with the space on the team shirt, in the newly negotiated terms vice-president Javier Faus added that between 50 and 60 more commercial spots will be taken up by the airline. This includes even a part of the stadium façade, additional advertising space in and around the Camp Nou, the Camp Nou seats, a place next to the Nike logo as well as some space in the club’s official museum. The numbers are as follows: 95.5 million euros over the next three seasons with payments staggered at 30, 32 and 33.5 million. There is additionally a 5 million euro bonus paid by the airline anytime in the next three years if Barça wins the UEFA Champions League. More details follow below.
Undeniably this is an economic success despite the mixed feelings from many about this escalating commercialization. With 30 million euros paid over for the 2013/14 season, FC Barcelona continues having among the largest commercial shirt sponsoring deal in football. Marketing giants Manchester United for example receive 23 million euros from AON (via sportingintelligence.com), though next year their annual deal with Chevy valued at 53 million euro (419 million over seven years) will blow Barça’s out the water (via ESPNFC). Arsenal’s new deal with Emirates is valued at 35 million euros for the current season (sportingintelligence.com), so that already tops Barça’s.
These deals are never straight forward at FC Barcelona due to being member owned and not corporately or privately administered. That’s something to be thankful for though. But due to such circumstances, Sandro Rosell took several questions around the deal’s details and ethics. Rosell went into expressing forcefully his role as president when it comes to transparency. His words also related to some stories in Catalonia about his private life.
“The Barcelona president is honest and transparent. I don’t want any member to have any doubts, they must know that their president is ethical, honest, transparent and everything is always declared.”
Rosell then began to focus more on the deal itself, stating: “this is the most democratic agreement in the history of the club, since it was presented to the member assembly without the obligation to do so and it was approved with a 90% voting majority.” Rosell is referring to the fact that no specific clause existed in the club’s statutes around shirt sponsorship deals. This is changing as one will see later on.
He also reinforced that this new deal not only benefits the club but has more holistic importance. “So in addition to their sponsorship directly with FC Barcelona, [Qatar Airways] will also sponsor the economies of the city of Barcelona and of Catalonia.” This is in reference to the Barcelona airport El Prat’s big time deal with the airline that will significantly increase air-traffic to the city.
The change from the Qatar Foundation to Qatar Airways has been known for nearly six months now as within the original deal with Qatar Sports Investment (QSI) a clause existed that allowed a change of shirt sponsor after the third year.
Javier Faus however stated that this deal would not transfer to the other sporting sections and that they continue to find sponsors for those areas. He also mentioned that when a modified version of the club’s statute is voted on later this year it will include a clause that states that any renewal of the original QSI deal, ending on 30 June 2016, will require member approval.
Finally airline CEO Akbar Al-Baker had this to say: “We share values, ambitions, courage and excellence with FC Barcelona. We also have a lot of social commitments. We will be using this partnership to help us in many areas. It has the biggest fan base in the world and that’s why wanted to associate ourselves with Barça. It is one of the best institutions on the planet.” An entire fleet of Boeing 777s and 787s will be painted in the blaugrana colors: “We’ll be displaying Barça at all the world’s major airports.”
Source: FCBarcelona, Sport, Image: Miguel Ruiz FCB
EnriqueSDS is a senior writer and editor for totalBarça, he can also be found in the Twittersphere under @enriqueschoch