Etisalat, the UAE’s largest telecommunications operator, has announced that it will extend its sponsorship deal with Spanish football club FC Barcelona for a further four years.
While full details of the deal remain unavailable, the contract is expected to be worth millions of dollars. In 2009, the telecom had signed a four-year agreement worth USD 15.7 million with the club. The agreement also obligated the club to play at least one game in a country where Etisalat operates. The telecom also had the rights to co-brand merchandise, use content from the club’s website and broadcast exclusive mobile TV content.
Under the new agreement, Etisalat will remain Barca’s main sponsor until June 2017 in countries where the telecom operates. These countries include the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo, Niger, Gabon and the Central African Republic. Qatar Sports Investments is the other main Gulf-based sponsor to feature on the shirts of Spanish team. From next season, the logo of Qatar’s national airline, Qatar Airways, will also be displayed on the club’s shirts. This will mark the first time that a commercial sponsor will be appearing on the 114-year old side’s kit.
According to the Deloitte Football Money League ranking published in January, Barcelona FC is the second most lucrative football club in the world after Real Madrid. In recent years, the champion club has won several trophies and attracted high quality international talent like Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique. On the ground success has also helped the club to woo wealthy sponsors and increase its commercial appeal. Last year, the club witnessed a 20 percent increase in its revenues.
Expressing his delight at the renewal of deal, Barca president Sandro Rosell said that the deal would “allow FC Barcelona to strengthen its connection with our fans in these areas and be closer to them. Without doubt, it will help us transmit our values and also grow socially and economically”.