September 10 – Financially troubled Barcelona are facing another hit on the their bank balances following shirt sponsor Rakuten’s decision to end their partnership and an almost halving of the deal for the current season.
Rakuten were paying Barca €55 million per season in a deal that begain 2017-2018 and running through to 2020-2021. Having initially agreed a one-year extension this has now been reduced to €30 million for the 2021/22 season after an extension clause was triggered within the previous deal.
Rakuten reportedly are unhappy with the management of the club and believe that they have not received the value their sponsorship was contracted to deliver and that “objectives” in the initial agreement have not been met.
Some reports even suggest Rakuten would be happy to exit their Barcelona relationship completely. Barca want to continue with the deal but the exit of Rakuten looks inevitable, though a residual $5 million deal looks to have been agreed.
Conrad Wiacek, Head of Sport Analysis at GloblaData, commented: “News that FC Barcelona and Rakuten are ending their partnership one year early will not only impact FC Barcelona’s finances in the short term, given its $1bn debt, but may also present serious questions regarding its global commercial footprint moving forward. Rakuten has felt its partnership objectives have not been met and this situation is unlikely to improve with Lionel Messi’s departure from the club.”
It is the potential of Asia that is greatly enhanced by Rakuten’s partnership. “Having downgraded its partnership from full front of shirt sponsor in a deal worth $65m a year to a partnership worth only $5m a year and now to full cancellation, one of the most iconic brands in sports will need new ways to reach fans in Asia,” said Wiacek.
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