Barca seals big deal with Ja­pan’s Rakuten

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

BARCELONA: Span­ish gi­ants FC Barcelona sealed a mas­sive shirt spon­sor­ship deal yes­ter­day with Ja­panese on­line re­tailer Rakuten worth at least 55 mil­lion eu­ros ($59 mil­lion) a year. One of world foot­ball’s most lu­cra­tive shirt spon­sor­ship deals sees Ja­pan’s lead­ing e-com­merce com­pany re­place Qatar Air­ways, Barcelona’s shirt spon­sor since 2013, con­firm­ing Asia’s ap­petite for ma­jor in­vest­ment in European foot­ball.

With the pulling power of top stars like Lionel Messi and Ney­mar, Barcelona’s suc­cess on the pitch en­sures the club ex­erts a huge draw on ad­ver­tis­ers.

“The base con­tract is 55 mil­lion eu­ros per year, with a bonus of 1.5 mil­lion eu­ros per year if the club wins the La Liga and five mil­lion eu­ros if it wins the Cham­pi­ons League,” Barcelona’s head of mar­ket­ing, Manel Ar­royo, told a news con­fer­ence at the club’s Camp Nou sta­dium. Qatar Air­ways were re­ported to have paid 35 mil­lion eu­ros for the fi­nal year of their deal tak­ing them up to the end of the 2016-17 sea­son.

MESSI, NEY­MAR TOP DRAW

Barcelona boasts some of the world’s most recog­nis­able stars-vi­tal mar­ket­ing as­sets for the club’s part­ners — who have mil­lions of fol­low­ers on so­cial me­dia, promis­ing in­valu­able ex­po­sure to spon­sors. Ar­gen­tine striker Messi is one of the most pop­u­lar ath­letes in the world on so­cial me­dia, with more than 78 mil­lion fan fol­low­ers on Face­book alone. Barcelona’s new spon­sor­ship deal how­ever falls short of the seven-year deal which Manch­ester United signed with Chevro­let which will earn the English club $560 mil­lion-about $80 mil­lion (70 mil­lion eu­ros) per year. Barcelona-once renowned for never hav­ing had a spon­sor on their shirts — had been look­ing to re­place their Qatar Air­ways con­tract which was seen as be­low mar­ket value for a num­ber of sea­sons.

It ex­tended its con­tract last year with the air­line for one year while it looked for a new part­ner. Rakuten, seek­ing to boost its global image, is Ja­pan’s big­gest e-com­merce com­pany with more than 13,000 em­ploy­ees in Ja­pan and turnover of more than two tril­lion yen (18.2 bil­lion dol­lars) in the first three quar­ters of the year. The com­pany is al­ready in­volved in do­mes­tic sport in Ja­pan, own­ing J-League club Vis­sel Kobe and pro base­ball out­fit To­hoku Rakuten Golden Ea­gles. Barcelona took its first step to­wards end­ing its tra­di­tion of shun­ning spon­sors on its shirts in 2006 when it agreed to bear the logo of Unicef. In 2011 Qatar Foun­da­tion re­placed the char­ity on the club’s shirts un­der a new deal.

Sec­ond shirt spon­sor­ship deal

Qatar Air­ways signed its first spon­sor­ship deal with the club in 2013. But many of Barcelona’s mem­bers had ex­pressed their op­po­si­tion to the club’s re­la­tion­ship with the Gulf state.

For­mer club pres­i­dent Joan La­porta has pledged to end the spon­sor­ship deal if re­elected to the post but he was soundly beaten by Josep Maria Bar­tomeu in the club’s 2015 elec­tion.

Barcelona’s new spon­sor­ship deal con­firms the in­ter­est in Asian in­vestors in European foot­ball and it comes as the club is set to be­gin work in 2018 on an ex­ten­sive ren­o­va­tion of their Camp Nou home. The re­fur­bish­ment will see the ca­pac­ity of Europe’s big­gest sta­dium ex­tended to 105,000 and an open fa­cade to al­low views across the city. A bud­get of 420 mil­lion eu­ros has been es­ti­mated for the project that will be fi­nanced in large part by pro­ceeds from spon­sor­ship. Barcelona in May signed a 10-year kit agree­ment with Nike, which it ex­pects to bring in at least 150 mil­lion eu­ros per sea­son when the ar­range­ment takes ef­fect in the 2018-19 sea­son.

The club is ex­pected to post a record turnover of 679 mil­lion eu­ros in the 201516 sea­son and sur­pass arch-ri­val Real Madrid as the world’s rich­est club in the an­nual rank­ings by Deloit. Deloit.

BARCELONA: CEO of Ja­panese com­pany Rakuten Hiroshi Mik­i­tani (R) ex­changes doc­u­ments with Barcelona’s pres­i­dent Josep Maria Bar­tomeu after sign­ing an agree­ment be­tween FC Barcelona and its new spon­sor Rakuten Inc., at Camp Nou sta­dium in Barcelona yes­ter­day.

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