FC Barcelona loses Saudi academy as regional sponsor fails to renew

FC Barcelona has lost its only academy in Saudi Arabia after regional sponsor Fitness Time failed to renew a three-year sponsorship deal with the club.

The Palco 23 football news site reports that Fitness Time had a sponsorship agreement with Barcelona dating back to 2015 under which it licensed its brand to the gym chain to create a series of academies and football camps.

Barça has struck a number of similar agreements with local partners in order to grow its brand internationally and take its football philosophy to different countries. Partners take care of managing the academies, while the club offers its training methodology and helps to instruct trainers.

The financial report of Leejam Sports, the company that owns the chain of gyms, reveals that it decided not to renew the agreement, preferring to continue managing the academy under the Fitness Time brand. The gym chain has strong brand recognition in the Middle East and North Africa region where it operates 112 facilities.

Barcelona has 44 academies spread over 5 continents. The highest concentration of these facilities is in North America.

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The partnership is understood to be a three-season deal, from 2019-20 to 2021-22, and builds on AXA’s existing Global Partner agreement with Liverpool.

The deal is the largest ever sponsorship investment in UK women’s sport and comes less than a year after the league went fully professional in September 2018.

Under the five-year global deal, Oppo will become the first Official Smartphone Partner of The Championships, Wimbledon, as the event is officially known.

US sportswear brand Nike is paying about $7.5m (€6.7m) per year to sponsor China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL), according to industry sources.