Barcelona shirts to be sponsored by Qatar Airways

By Andrew Warshaw

Qatar AirwaysNovember 19 - Qatar Airways will take over as the shirt sponsor for Barcelona from the 2013-2014 season as part of the Catalan giants' agreement with Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), replacing the Qatar Foundation.

The deal means Qatar's state-run carrier will go head to head with Dubai's Emirates, which sponsors Arsenal.

Barça's decision to abandon its previous philosophy of non-profit backers - Unicef used to be its shirt sponsor - has not gone down well with a section of fans.

But Sandro Rosell, the club's President, welcomed Qatar Airways as "an ambitious brand with global aspirations, always committed to achieving the utmost excellence in its field. These are objectives with which FC Barcelona fully identifies".

Under the current five-year contract signed with QSI, Barca are allowed to change logo from the third season onwards.

Akbar Al Baker, the chief executive of Qatar Airways, said: "We are delighted to form this alliance with FC Barcelona, the biggest football club in the world.

"Qatar Airways has been voted best airline in the world for two consecutive years and will work with FC Barcelona on activities of benefit both to fans and passengers, offering tangible rewards to both organisations."

Lionel Messi_v_Celtic_November_2012
A Qatar Foundation spokesperson said: "When we started this fantastic journey with FC Barcelona, our objective was to work closely with the club, the team and the supporters to promote awareness of Qatar Foundation on an international scale. 

"This has been a huge success. In fact, the first two years of the collaboration have surpassed our expectations and we are looking to deepen and strengthen our relationship with FC Barcelona and its supporters around the world in our continued role as a proud partner of the club."

Sport+Markt's latest European Football Jersey Report in October stated that Barcelona's partnership with the Qatar Foundation is the most lucrative shirt sponsorship in Europe's major leagues at a value of €30 million per season.

In July the club reported record profits of €48.8 million for the 2011-2012 season following losses of €9.3 million and €83 million in the previous two seasons.

Barcelona's total debt, which stood at €420 million two years ago, was reduced to €335 million, but vice-president of the economic and strategic area of the club, Javier Faus, stated that the club "needs to be cautious" if it wants to take on "ambitious future projects".

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