We had that rarest of things this week: a piece of relatively good news from Barcelona.
It’s not really been a source of much positivity over the last few weeks, with in-fighting and controversy very much to the fore for the most part, but the club announced that they would be selling the naming rights to the Camp Nou for the first time ever, and donating the proceeds to the fight against coronavirus.
The initial plan is to sell the naming rights for one year and donate the proceeds, presumably in the hope that by then all of this will be cleared up.
“It’s probably one of the best ideas that Barcelona has had,” said our Spanish expert Alvaro Romeo on this week’s Totally Football Show. “Certainly that this board has had. For the first time in their history, they are going to look for a sponsor to name the stadium, and the money earned during the first season will be donated to help the fight against coronavirus.
“It hasn’t been determined whether it will be Camp Nou + sponsor name, or sponsor name + Camp Nou. It’s not exactly like an auction because there is no starting price.
“But this is the first good news for a while for Barcelona, because they were the first team in Spain to furlough their staff, plus six members of the directors’ board resigned in the last month. But this is something they have got right, and when a club does something right, it has to be said.”
As ever though, a note of cynicism must be sounded, because this does sound pretty familiar. You will recall that up until 2006, Barcelona famously did not sully their shirts with a sponsor, but as a definitely, 100%, purely altruistic gesture, that year gave it to Unicef.
Of course it could have just been all about the charity, but you could also suggest that it was simply a ruse to ease everyone into the idea of having a sponsor, so that a more commercial deal could be struck later. Which it was, with the Qatar Foundation, then Qatar Airways, then Rakuten adorning the blaugrana jerseys.
So is that what they’re doing this season?
“You could read it like that, obviously,” said Alvaro.
“A company that decides to sponsor the Camp Nou, will not only be giving money to Barcelona but to the coronavirus fight, so it’s really good PR. And a lot of money too: Atletico Madrid is making up to €10million a season for the naming rights of the Wanda Metropolitano, and I can imagine Barcelona will get more money.
“They will match that figure at least – I think €15-20million is nothing crazy to think about. €20million going to the coronavirus fight is very good news.”
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