Barcelona Signs New Shirt Sponsorship Deal with Rakuten

By Matthew Bagdat
Sports Business Editor

One of the world’s richest and most notable soccer clubs is getting even richer. F.C. Barcelona has found a new sponsor for their world-famous uniforms. The Spanish giants signed a deal worth 55 million euros ($59 million) per year for four years, with an option to extend to a fifth season. The deal will be starting in the 2017-18 season, and is expected to earn the club at least 188 million euros, with the ability to earn even more if the team wins its domestic league, La Liga or the Champions League, the highest level of competition in European soccer.

It has been ten years since the club accepted its first sponsorship with Unicef, which according to BBC, involved the club donating to the charity. Barcelona’s new deal breaks the record for most expensive sponsorship, which was previously held by Manchester United and Chevrolet, worth 47 million Euros over seven years. In Deloitte Football Money League, Barcelona is ranked second in the world’s richest club rankings behind their longtime rival Real Madrid. This deal should certainly help the club overtake the top spot, and will also aid Barcelona’s plans to expand its Nou Camp Stadium to 105,000 seats.

The club’s president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, was excited by the new agreement, stating, “This agreement puts at the forefront of sports club sponsorships, which has always been an objective for the current board of directors.”

This deal also gives Rakuten a chance to grow its brand globally. It is already a household name in Asia as a major Japanese ecommerce firm. According to BBC, it is the biggest e-commerce firm in Japan, and has over 13,000 employes. It also owns a number of Japanese baseball clubs.

There had been initial reports in June that Rakuten was closing down its operations in Spain and England in order to focus on other markets. These reports have clearly been proven to be false. Having some of the world’s biggest players such as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar wearing jerseys with the Rakuten name on the front will be a perfect opportunity for them to grow their brand. Asian brands have done well when pairing with European soccer clubs, as seen with Sharp with Manchester United, Chang with Everton, and AIA with Tottenham Hotspur.

It is a great agreement for both sides, allowing Rakuten to grow internationally, and Barcelona being given an opportunity to become the world’s wealthiest club.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 22nd print edition.

Contact Matt at
matthew.bagdat@student.shu.edu

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