Jordi Cardoner, the VP of “Social Areas” gave an interview to El Mundo Deportivo the other day, and he had a couple of interesting things to say about the club’s views on socis and foreign supporters. I’ll give you the Spanish version first, and then a translation. Corrections or clarifications are welcome.
¿Por qué deciden que los socios se puedan hacer sólo de forma presencial? ¿No es una forma de renunciar a ingresos?
No, básicamente es un tema de identidad. Necesitamos conseguir beneficios para mantener la excelencia como club, pero si sólo fuera un tema de recursos, los podríamos conseguir de otra forma. Buscamos un socio de calidad. Si echamos la vista atrás, desde 1982 hasta el 2003, que se hace la campaña del ‘Gran Repte’, tenemos unos socios fieles de 105.000 con bandas de fluctuación +/- 8%. Luego, pese a ganar la Champions en el 92, no hay ningún salto. Con el ‘Gran Repte’, nos encontramos con lo que nos pasa actualmente, que hay un promedio de 12.000 socios de baja anual. No queremos ser el club con más socios del mundo, sino compromismo social por parte del socio y eso empieza por desplazarse al club y darse de alta. No queremos salir en el Guinness por el número de socios, sino en años de historia y de éxito.
¿Pero no existe contradicción con querer un socio arraigado y luego hacer giras por Asia y América?
No, a los de fuera les vendemos otras cosas. A los simpatizantes les podemos vender muchas cosas, desde camisetas, aplicaciones de ‘smartphone’… Este perfil de cliente da un dinero y quiere algo a cambio, el socio del Barça no, porque tiene el sentimiento culé en sus genes y transmite ese sentimiento de abuelos a nietos.
Full interview is HERE
And in English, thanks very much to @DuskySprngfield for the timely translation!
Why has it been decided that membership can only be made in person? Doesn’t
that take away from revenue?
No, basically it’s an issue of identity. We need to find benefits to
maintain the excellence of the club but if it was only an issue of raising
revenue we can do that another way. We’re looking for quality members. If
we look back, from 1982 to 2003, since the “Gran Repte” campaign we’ve had
105,000 loyal members with a fluctuation between +/- 8%. After winning the
Champions League in 1992 there’s been no jump in memberships. After the
“Gran Repte”, we discovered that in actuality we have an average loss of
12,000 members annually. We don’t want to be the club with the most members
in the world, but rather have a social commitment on the part of the member
and that begins by going to the club and registering (in person).
Isn’t it a contradiction to want a local member and yet do tours throughout Asia and the Americas?
No, to those outside we sell them other things. To the supporters we can
sell a lot of things, from t-shirts to apps. This type of customer spends
money and wants something in return, the Barça member does not, because
they have a sentimental attachment to being culé in their genes and pass
that sentiment on from grandparent to grandchild.
One of the more contentious issues around our beloved club in recent years has been the restrictions that were imposed after the 2010 elections on who is eligible to apply for soci status. After the explosion of foreigners signing up during the Laporta presidency, Rosell’s board moved to apply strict limitations–basically you had to be a direct relative of a current member even if you have supported Barca all your life and live across from the Camp Nou. They later introduced a 3-year “Committment Card” process that allows holders to eventually be considered to become full-fledged socis, but the card must be applied for and renewed in person at club offices every year. Clearly the club has retreated from its “Great Challenge” of recruiting members from all over the world, and wants to firmly reestablish its identification as a Catalan club run by Catalan socis…but with a global marketing outreach.
We have debated the issue of whether foreigners should be allowed to become full-fledged socis in this space several times, most recently HERE, so I won’t get into detail about my views again. However, I thought these recent statements by Cardoner deserved some comment. Over the last 3 years Rosell has trodden a careful path between the sensitivities of his xenophobic Catalan electoral base and the millions of supporters around the world who identify with the club and think of it as their own. Many foreign cules who either already are or hope to become socis have been angered by the restrictive policies that have been put in place, even as the club has actively sought out new markets and invited them to join the cule family. These comments by Cardoner make it quite clear that foreigners are valued solely as a source of income for the club, no matter how much they may personally “identify” with Barca’s history and struggles. There is an argument to be made in favour of that point of view, although many in this space will disagree.
So what do you think? I know we have a couple of new posters in here who are Catalans, and possibly socis as well. Do you see Barça as a Catalan-only club? How do you feel about foreigners like us identifying with it and wanting to become members?