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LaLiga signs Santander partnership

LaLiga, the organising body of club football in Spain, has confirmed that banking group Santander will become the new title sponsor of its top two divisions.

The three-season deal will take in the 2016-17 to 2018-19 campaigns and includes the option for a further year. Through the agreement, the Spanish top flight will now be known as LaLiga Santander, and the second-tier LaLiga2 as LaLiga 1|2|3, alluding to the 1|2|3 account offered by the bank, central to the company’s commercial strategy in Spain and overseas.

The terms of the contract include advertising presence for Santander both during broadcasts of LaLiga Santander and LaLiga 1|2|3 matches and in stadiums, as well as the development of joint digital strategies, databases, ticketing policies, experiences related to football, and association and image rights.

With the partnership, LaLiga said it has achieved its aim of associating itself with a brand that possesses “national and international prestige”. Santander boasts 121 million customers, with a presence in Spain as well as other European markets such as the UK, Germany, Portugal and Poland; Latin American territories such as Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Chile, and the United States.

The deal marks a change of approach from LaLiga. Earlier this month, the organisation said that the top two divisions of Spanish football would be rebranded after confirming it would not seek a title sponsor for the 2016-17 season.

LaLiga and LaLiga2 were set as the official names of the competitions from July 1, the day after the conclusion of a title sponsorship deal with BBVA. The banking group had been a LaLiga partner since the 2006-07 season when the second tier was rebranded as the Liga BBVA. Two years later, the sponsorship agreement was extended, with the top flight renamed the Liga BBVA, while Liga Adelante became the official name for the second division. These versions remained until the end of the 2015-16 campaign.

BBVA was the sponsor for LaLiga for 10 seasons. However, the company confirmed in September that the 2015-16 season would be its last as title sponsor of the Liga and Liga Adelante.

Financial terms of the Santander deal were not disclosed, but LaLiga president Javier Tebas confirmed that it is worth less than the €26m ($28.7m) per season that BBVA previously paid. Tebas instead said that LaLiga placed greater value in the global reach provided by Santander.

Tebas added: “Banco Santander has what we were looking for. We were looking for an organisation to help us with the internationalisation we’re lacking. We wanted a partner that wouldn’t pose a reputational risk and that would comply with good governance standards. Also, one that would fulfill corporate social responsibility.

“It's impossible to avoid talking about the financial issue, but when we made the decision, money wasn't the important thing. Today we want to be close to those who will help us grow and continue to be the best league in the world, just like Banco Santander is the best bank in the world.”