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Barcelona Sells Jersey Sponsorship to Qatar Foundation

December 10, 2010

FC Barcelona have famously bucked the trend of having a lucrative sponsor on their jersey in recent years. Instead, the club has worn Unicef’s name, and it paid for the right to promote the charity. Facing debt of over 440 million Euros, Barcelona has sold sponsorship to the Qatar Foundation. Qatar Foundation is also a charitable group which continues Barcelona’s promotion of good causes, but this time, Barcelona will be paid for its coveted space. A couple points from this story worth thinking about:

1) Even one of the most famous soccer clubs in the world is pressured to make money in the traditional way that European soccer clubs make money. It’s hard to be completely different and pass up the opportunity to make 30 million Euros per year for the next 5 years.

2) Barcelona’s deal also includes 15 million Euros for the rest of this season, so the deal is for a total of 165 million Euros for five years. This is a lot of money, and it’s the most lucrative deal in European soccer history. It’s hard to think that teams like the New York Knicks, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Blackhawks, and other teams in the United States are not thinking about such sponsorship. It’s even harder to think that commissioners like David Stern aren’t thinking about revenues from jersey sponsorship. I predict that the international flavor of sponsorship will hit the NBA sooner rather than later. In fact, this could be a great way for the league to make money in order to raise revenue and alleviate the burden on NBA players to take smaller salary in order to save money. This could be a new revenue stream created to avoid a lockout by allowing the league to take a cut of jersey sponsorship.

3) This is a smart move by the Qatar Foundation to play on the excitement of the World Cup coming to the small country in 2022. Barcelona is a very prominent team, so Qatar Foundation will get a lot of attention. People will see the signage on the jersey and be intrigued by the foundation because the World Cup is already in everyone’s mind. This will lead to a greater awareness for Qatar Foundation’s causes. This is also great promotion for the government of Qatar. The country will be in the site of millions of soccer fans who learn a few things from this sponsorship: Qatar is a progressive and innovative nation, Qatar is serious about soccer, and Qatar is a nation with great resources and the ability to pull off a World Cup that many are skeptical will be successful. I would be interested to know where the money for the sponsorship comes from. Perhaps, a rich, well-connected businessman in Qatar was encouraged by connections in the government or World Cup committee to donate.

– Jason

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