The Barcelona board are clear that to preserve the club’s independence and, above all, to maintain the sporting excellence, they must force their financial muscle. One way of doing that is the sponsorship on the front of the shirts.
It’s not the only way, nor is it the most important, but it has been the most sensitive issue since December 2010 when Javier Faus announced that the Qatar Foundation would replace UNICEF. As is well known, the contract with Qatar Sports Investment, which was signed in 2012, with Qatar Airways replacing Qatar Foundation, ends in June.
Both Josep Maria Bartomeu and Manel Arroyo have travelled to Doha several times to renew the contract, but it remains on stand by. Barcelona have asked for a minimum amount and Qatar will not move on their last offer.
Barça have not sat around, though, and have got to work looking for other sponsors. And they have found them. In concrete, they have found two multinational companies, both of whom are very powerful, although the names of the companies nor the sectors they work in are known.
What SPORT can confirm, though, is that the offers to sponsor the shirt are worth more than the 60 million euros per season paid by Qatar since 2010.
Qatar has a preferential right on the contract, but that will disappear after June 30 if they don’t reach an agreement with FC Barcelona. The Catalan club’s intention, in this scenario, is to announce the new sponsors in July or August.
The club are working so that the shirt does have a sponsor next season, whether it’s Qatar or another company, but they are not in a rush. They understand the market and have seen the amounts other clubs have been paid, so want to make sure they get the maximum amount possible.
In the worst case scenario, they would still be happy to go one season without a sponsor and to negotiate the contract the club feels they deserve.