Sun, Dec 12, 2010 - Page 20 News List

Barcelona, Qatar group ink US$40m shirt deal

Reuters, MADRID

Barcelona have agreed a record shirt sponsorship deal with the Qatar Foundation worth 30 million euros (US$40 million) a season through to the end of the 2015-2016 campaign, the La Liga champions said on Friday.

The deal is the biggest for any soccer club, the Spanish champions said on their Web site, and will net the Catalans, the second-richest club by income behind arch rivals Real Madrid, as much as 170 million euros.

The total includes 15 million euros for commercial rights for the current season and a bonus for winning titles that could be as much as 5 million euros, Barca added.

“With this accord, Barca becomes the undisputed brand leader in world [soccer], far ahead of international rivals,” Javier Faus, a club vice president, told a news conference.

He added that the fresh injection of cash would help strengthen sporting projects, though he cautioned that the heavily-indebted club’s financial situation remained delicate.

“Less so, but still delicate and the austerity plan led by the director general will be carried forward 100 percent,” he said.

The Qatar Foundation, founded by the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani in 1995, has projects focusing on education, scientific research and community development. It is also engaged in several corporate joint ventures.

“It’s a non-commercial brand, it’s a foundation and an NGO [non-governmental organization] from a small country, at once progressive and traditional, which aims to raise its profile in the world through education and sport,” Faus added.

The tiny Persian Gulf state was chosen by FIFA to host the World Cup in 2022, when it will become the first Arab country to stage the finals, and Barca coach Pep Guardiola was one of the ambassadors for the bid.

The club are one of the few in world soccer not to have a corporate logo on their first-team shirts, instead displaying the name of the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, for which they pay the organization 1.5 million euros a year.

Under the agreement announced on Friday, marketing experts will seek to find a way for both logos to be displayed, although if that was not possible the UNICEF name could be moved to another part of the shirt, with priority given to the Qatar Foundation logo, a club spokesman said.

The agreement also includes a commitment for Barca to play one friendly per season.

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