Barcelona Football Club have ended a 111-year old tradition of refusing commercial shirt sponsorship by signing a five-year €150m deal with the Qatar Foundation.
The Catalan club paid to carry the UNICEF logo on their shirts for the last five years. They will look to carry both the logos on their shirts from 2011-12 season onwards, though the Qatar Foundation logo will be given precedence if both cannot be accommodated.
Barcelona will receive €30m per season from 2011-12 from the Qatar Foundation, which is a non-profit organization. It comes as a boost to Qatar as they will be hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Barcelona's senior executives described the deal saying it was a remarkable milestone because it represents a record level of revenue for a football club and has more value still in the current economic climate.
The deal comes at the right time for Barcelona, as they are reported to be bogged down by debts amounting to £369.5m and operating on losses of £64.36m in the 2009/10 season. This deal will go some way in clearing the debt and could free up some transfer funds for the manager, Pep Guardiola, who worked successfully with the Qatar bid team which won the 2022 World Cup hosting rights.
The Qatar Foundation was founded in 1995 by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the emir of Qatar. It is a non-profit organization which aims to bolster the education in the Middle East. Her highness, Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, the wife of the Emir, who was central to Qatar's final World Cup bid last week, is the chairperson of the organization.