Who knew that Sandro RoSELL would live up to his name so quickly? Euler has laid out all the basics in his excellent post below this one.
Javier Faus, economic head of the club, has said that the
whoring ou …. sale is necessary for financial reasons. This makes perfect sense to me, given that the club has a 50m transfer budget this summer and subsequent summers, and the deal is worth a darn sight less than that per annum, at north of 30m.
In its 111-year history, the club has NEVER featured a full-time paying sponsor on its shirt. Until 2006, it didn’t have anything on the front, until a sponsorship agreement with UNICEF brought that international brand to the front of our shirt, a privilege that we paid for.
Hellloooo, Qatar Foundation! We’ve gone from paying 1.5m per annum to UNICEF for the logo (through the FC Barcelona Foundation) to being paid. Tidy profit, I’d say.
But what’s the real cost of this sale?
For this cule and soci, the real cost is incalculable. Essentially, we sold out 111 years of tradition for about 1m per year. FC Barcelona is owned by its members, the socis. This structure was part of the pride that came with not needing to have a shirt sponsor. We can do this thing ourselves, world. So get lost. Leave the posh airlines, betting companies and financial firms to other clubs.
In the club’s recent salad days, this has been even more true, as seven graduates of the FC Barcelona Masia, or farm system, started in the Champions League final in which we defeated Manchester United. Seven grads were also in the starting XI that destroyed the Evil Empire with a still tear-inducing manita. We don’t even need to buy that many players. We can do it ourselves.
Until now. Now, we are available to the highest bidder. For me, the club couching its vile decision in “Well, it’s the right sponsor, you know,” is like a whore saying “I don’t do business with bad men.” It makes you no less of a whore. Perhaps Pep Guardiola’s celebrity status as part of the successful Qatar World Cup bid should have been a clue. Perhaps not. He could have just been being nice after all, right? Right?
Mind you, this isn’t the first time that shirt sponsorship has come up. Most recently, a deal to feature (for almost $25m) the Beijing Olympics/2010 Asian games was proffered, but struck down by the assembly, a supergroup of delegates who convene when matters essential to the club’s health and well-being need to be discussed. That was as it should be.
The club’s crest means a lot to its members, and to Catalans in particular. The Camp Nou was about the only place that being fully Catalan wasn’t illegal for too many years. There have been anti-capitalism protests in the club’s history, including when protesters stormed the pitch during a Clasic in protest of the World Trade Organization.
The club crest isn’t just a logo to be bought and sold. It’s a bright, shining symbol of a truculent people who refused to be extinguished, who are raising their heads once again in massive numbers, as Catalanisme is all the rage. The club is surging, but so is the language and culture, buttressed by the many referenda for Catalan independence. And that shirt, the FC Barcelona shirt, is part of that rich tradition of suffrage and protest.
Is that tradition worth a mil a year, a million Euros for each one of the club’s 111 years of proud history? Hell no, and even the most money-hungry supporter knows good and damned well it isn’t. We are a big club but more importantly, a big club that doesn’t need your money. We’re worth more than that. Club after club gave in to greed, and we stayed the course. Even Athletic Bilbao eventually fell by the wayside, the other proud, sponsorless shirt of a club that, not coincidentally, is Basque in origin and foundations. Yes, another batch of proud protesters who want independence.
But we stood firm, until now. Now, in a back-room deal that was snuck past the assembly and its members, the club has sold the shirt. Is this the transparency that Sandro Rosell was talking about? I suppose this is somehow Joan Laporta’s fault. After all, if he hadn’t left the club in such a dire financial predicament, we wouldn’t have had to sell the shirt, right?
If you believe that, I have a bridge for sale. Now I don’t have clear title, or even the necessary paperwork. But trust me, it can be yours, for the right price.
I would rather have gutted the transfer budget and taken some losses to get the fiscal ship right, if it was that dire. We have a passel of young Masia graduates in the club, and more that are almost ripe on the tree. So what, we don’t win everything. We retain our principles, and buy smart in the market with the approximately 17m available to Pep Guardiola each summer, and farm the rest.
People have said, and will continue to say, “Get off your high horse. It’s time our club joined the modern world. Tradition and sentiment are for the weak,” or “What’s the big deal, anyway? It’s still Barca.” Sorry, but the brand has been diluted, because just as we are mes que un club, the garment that our warriors wore was mes que un samarreta. More importantly, you’re wrong. It IS more than a shirt. So much more.
This deal is just wrong. I love this club, and will continue to support it with all of my heart. I don’t dare resign my soci membership, because I want the opportunity to be able to vote against whoever Sandro RoSELL picks as his successor, because this madness has to stop. At present, I am as disgusted. Every time I think about this, I want to weep tears of rage, frustration and sadness. We have sold out. More correctly, we have been sold out.
I have been following this club for some time, through lean years, trophyless years, glory years, more trophyless years and now this current, glorious renaissance. I have never, EVER been disgusted, until now. I can love the club because the club didn’t do this. Sandro and his Henchmen did this, sullying a 111-year tradition for a pittance. First soci limitations, and now this. What’s next? If we got that much for the shirt, what, of what, would Emirates Stadium Barcelona fetch?
Typically. it’s been reported that Rosell won’t be attending the announcement ceremony. Recall that he also abstained from the vote to pursue legal action against Joan Laporta. Dude has a history of not manning up to his decisions. Why expect him to show up and own this decision?
I leave you with an open letter from Joan Laporta, announcing the UNICEF deal. It’s worth a read, and interesting parts are in bold face:
On occasion of the Unicef deal in New York, president Joan Laporta wrote this open letter to Barcelona supporters to explain the full details.
With this letter I want to inform you of the agreement that today we will sign with Unicef in New York. For this five year agreement, the FC Barcelona football teams will wear the Unicef logo on their shirts from this season. On Tuesday, in the first Champions League match against Levski at the Camp Nou, the team will wear this new shirt for the first time.
The general assembly of delegate members of August 2003 authorized the Board of Directors to negotiate for a shirt sponsorship deal. The economic situation we were in when we arrived at the club obliged us to look into all the possible options available.
Fortunately, thanks to everyone’s hard work, the good economic development of the last years, sporting success, and the renewed passion of Barça fans, today the economic resource of a shirt sponsorship deal is no longer as necessary. A few months ago, the board initiated a process of internal evaluation of what the best option for shirt sponsorship deals would be.
This debate led us to agree to a different objective that would make FC Barcelona ‘more than a club’ in the world. The conclusion was that we had to put our greatest asset, our shirt, at the service of this ambitious project.
FC Barcelona is more than a club in Catalonia. It is the nation’s most representative sporting institution and one of its finest ambassadors. Also, for different reasons, FC Barcelona is more than a club for many people in the rest of Spain that have seen our club to be a firm supporter of democratic rights and liberties.
Today, football has reached a global scale. Barça support has spread spectacularly around the entire world. The number of members outside of Catalonia and Spain is growing every day. The club has to respond to this wave of global support for Barça. It is both a need and an obligation. And we believe that the most coherent way of doing this is to move towards becoming more than a club in the world as well.
The slogan more than a club is open in its definition. Maybe it is this flexibility that makes it so apt for defining the complex identity of FC Barcelona. There has always been the Barça that plays every Sunday and every Wednesday, and the Barça that beats every day in the hearts of its people. The Barça of Sunday and Wednesday is already a global club. Now, we want to globalize the Barça that cares for its people, we want to globalize the Barça of civilian duty, solidarity and humanitarianism.
We have decided that the best way to do this is to associate ourselves with Unicef, the United Nations organisation that fights for the welfare of children. On the one hand, we have decided to donate 0.7% of our income to the Fundació del FC Barcelona and associate ourselves with the objectives of the United Nations. And on the other hand, we have decided to collaborate with Unicef’s humanitarian efforts by donating 1.5 million euros a year for 5 years, and putting their logo on our shirt. We are convinced that it is a very good agreement, because it makes something unique out of FC Barcelona.
We are aware of the responsibilities that this decision bestows upon us. To be more than a club in the world is something we all have to do together, and we have to do it on a daily basis. The players, the managers, the directors, the employees, the members, the supporters clubs and fans, everyone is in this together. But we are convinced that we have the capacity to do it. Because we believe that with this project we can make FC Barcelona’s universal sentiment a reality.
We hope that this project excites you and that you will make it your own. It is the most important project that we have planned for the next few years. Thank you very much for your support and confidence.
Joan Laporta i Estruch
President of FC Barcelona
P.S. Hats off to rakoczyn, whose club history goes deeper than mine, and whose memory is even better. In 1990, we struck a temporary deal with Japan Air Lines, and wore that company’s logo for two matches. We were paid 400m pesetas (about 2.4m Euros) for the front.