FC Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu and vice-president Manel Arroyo signed the deal with Rakuten founder and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani on Wednesday, proudly announcing that it could be worth up to £53million per year – the biggest on the planet.
It is one of the biggest football shirt sponsorships yet seen and could make Barcelona wealthier than Real Madrid, currently the world’s richest club.
The deal will begin with the 2017-18 season and last for four years. It will earn the club at least £188m in that time, with more to come if the team wins the Spanish championship or the Champions League.
As FC Barcelona official website stated:
“Given their strong innovation credentials, Rakuten will be FCB’s first Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner. Rakuten will support the players and delight FC Barcelona fans and members with new initiatives showcasing the company’s technological prowess in messaging, drones, e-commerce, AI and much more. These initiatives will draw on Rakuten’s global resources. In Europe, the Japanese business is present in companies such as Viber, the mobile messaging and calling app; Wuaki, the video-streaming service established in Barcelona and now available in 12 countries; PriceMinister, one of France’s leading e-commerce sites; and Kobo, a global digital e-reading service now available in 12 European countries. Across the globe, Rakuten companies in Japan and the US include the Rakuten Ichiba e-commerce marketplace, the US-based shopping cashback service Ebates, and Overdrive, a distributor of eBooks to libraries. These brands will also provide invaluable support to the partnership.”
Josep Bartomeu added to the sponsorship deal:
“We are delighted with our agreement with Rakuten, a global brand in innovation whose experience and know-how in the fields of big data, communications and e-commerce will contribute to the future success of FC Barcelona”.
Rakuten Chairman and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani stated:
“This partnership opportunity is set to power our global brand strategy and, more importantly, as the Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner, we are looking to bring the collective power of our brands like Viber, Wuaki, Ebates, Kobo, PriceMinister to build a cool innovation framework that will deliver innovative solutions and services to fans, members and players”.
When Barcelona’s vice-president Manel Arroyo was asked if the uncertainty over Lionel Messi’s future had been factored into the partnership, Arroyo was clear that there was no doubt on their number 10 staying and no clauses that even considered that possibility.
“What is certain is that no Messi clause exists,” the vice-president of finance said.
“Leo wants to end his footballing career with Barcelona, as he has repeated many times, and we can’t even think about letting him leave… and we are working for that to be the case.
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