offpitch | 2016-11-17
Barcelona signs record shirt sponsorship deal with Rakuten
The Japanese electronic commerce company will become the main global sponsor of the club for the next four seasons
The wait is finally over. After months of rumors, controversies and almost-done deals thrown to the garbage can, the club has officially announced the new sponsorship agreement to the media and fans this Wednesday. It wasn’t a renewal with Qatar Foundation/Qatar Airways nor a deal with the American Internet-based juggernaut Amazon but with its Japanese counterpart, Rakuten, Inc.
As reported earlier by Grup 14, the club’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu announced in the Auditori 1899 that the new agreement will be for the next four years, starting in July 1st 2017, with the option of a one-year extension. Barça will receive annually €55M plus €1.5M for winning the Spanish league and €5M if the team wins the Champions League.
The club’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Manel Arroyo, explained that “as part of the deal Rakuten’s brand will be visible on the stadium's façade and on member's cards and tickets” and he clarified that “the first team shirt is the most seeable, but the training kit, the women’s shirt and that of the youth teams are all still open [to negotiations]”. Arroyo also remarked that "depending on the current exchange rate this deal is at a similar level with Manchester United's shirt sponsorship."
Rakuten, Inc. is one of the world's leading internet services companies and it was founded in Japan in 1997. It mainly focuses on e-commerce, finance, and digital content, with revenues of over $4.6 billion in 2012 and employing more than 10,000 people worldwide. Rakuten is the Japanese word for optimism and culés were quick to point out the irony that the company has established commercial links with a club with one of the most gloomy fan bases of football world.