Barcelona has ended its long-term stance of refusing commercial shirt sponsorship by signing a record a five-year, $200 million deal with the Qatar Foundation.
The club had never sold its jersey space for advertisement, but for the last five years sported the Unicef logo while the club donated at least $2 million annually to the children charity. Unicef will share shirt space with the new sponsors.
The Qatar Foundation, a non-profit concerned primarily with education projects in the Middle East, will pay Barcelona $40 a year through 2016. Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid each earn about $32 million a year in shirt sponsorship; Bayern Munich about $36 million.
The Qatar Foundation is chaired by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, the wife of the Emir, who was central to Qatar's final World Cup bid last week. The new sponsorship could free up some transfer funds for Coach Pep Guardiola -- who worked as an ambassador for Qatar's successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup. A July an audit revealed Barcelona's debt to be $585 million after a loss of more than $100 million in the 2009/10 season.