The gossip mill was in overdrive this week over the idea that Barcelona might sell naming rights to Camp Nou. Rumours were that the Catalan club would finalize a 30-year deal with Grifols, a Spanish pharmaceutical giant and change its name to “Nou Camp Grifols.”
The deal was said to have been for 400 million euros. This would have made it the most expensive stadium naming rights deal in history. The current most expensive deal is for the MetLife stadium in New York for 400 million USD. That stadium is the home of two American football teams: the New York Giants and New York Jets.
Grifols, headquartered in Sant Cugat just outside of Barcelona, denied the rumours surrounding Camp Nou name change today. They issued a statement that “the company is not contemplating any sponsorship of this type.”
Barça looking to fund the future
But, it seems likely that Barcelona will offer its naming rights to a high-paying sponsor. The club will start the “Espai Barça” project to renovate the stadium in 2019. The project is estimated to take four years and cost 600 million euros. The project will be completed in phases, so the team will continue playing matches in Camp Nou during construction. The seating areas will only have construction work taking place during the summer to limit inconvenience to fans.
Barcelona also needs funds to pay the reported 80 million euro signing bonus that will be in the new Messi contract. There was talk last week that Manchester city could make a surprise bid of 400 million euros for the Argentinian. Barcelona need to make sure there is no financial incentive for Messi to consider leaving.
A change in attitude
During the last decade, the club has been gradually changing its attitude towards sponsorship. Barcelona did not even sell shirt sponsorship until 2010 with the Qata Foundation. Before that, the first company name on their kit back in 2006 was the charity Unicef. This “sponsorship” deal saw the club actually paying Unicef 1.5 million euros a year.
This summer, the club signed a 4-year shirt sponsorship deal with Rakuten. The Japanese company became the club’s main global sponsor and has their logo currently on the front of the first team’s shirt. Rakuten pays Barcelona 55 million euros per year during the duration of this contract.
Now that Grifols have declined their interest, more corporates will surely be negotiating with Barcelona. Even with all the controversy surrounding the club due to possible Catalan independence, Barcelona is a huge city and its team has a global reach. Having a company name on the Camp Nou stadium is too good a chance to miss.