Manel Arroyo, vice-president of marketing and communications at Barcelona, has confirmed that the Spanish Liga football club is in “well advanced” talks with a number of companies as it continues its search for a main shirt sponsor.
Qatar’s national carrier Qatar Airways has served as Barcelona’s front-of-shirt sponsor since the 2013-14 season but its contract with the club expired at the end of the 2015-16 campaign.
Speaking to Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, Arroyo said Qatar Airways remains “best placed” to renew ahead of the 2016-17 season, but admitted there are other interested parties.
Arroyo said: “(Qatar Airways) are the best placed company, (but) we have another few projects well advanced. A dozen big global companies got in touch with us.”
Arroyo said any deal would be worth €60m-€65m ($68m-$74m) per season, which is more than Liga rival Real Madrid currently receives through its partnership with Dubai-based airline Emirates. “The truth is, for me, that Barcelona is financially and sportingly above Real Madrid,” Arroyo added.
Qatar Airways replaced non-profit organisation the Qatar Foundation as the club’s main shirt sponsor. The Qatar Foundation held the position during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons as part of the club’s association with Qatar Sports Investments.
United Nations children’s fund Unicef became Barcelona's first-ever front-of-shirt sponsor in 2006. Unicef, whose branding now features on the back of the club's shirts, occupied the prime spot until the Qatar Foundation took over in 2011.