FC Barcelona has unveiled Qatar Airways as the club's first commercial shirt sponsor, with the agreement set to represent world football's most lucrative shirt deal until Manchester United's new partnership with Chevrolet commences in the 2014-15 season, reports SportBusiness. Barcelona first announced in November that the airline would take over as the club's shirt sponsor from the 2013-14 season as part of the Spanish Primera Division giant's agreement with Qatar Sports Investments (QSI).
Barcelona stated that the current five-year contract signed with QSI permitted the possibility of including a new logo on the shirt from the third season of the agreement.
The Qatar Foundation has served as the club's shirt sponsor for the past two campaigns, succeeding Unicef, which became the first brand to occupy Barcelona's famous shirts after the club agreed to such deals in August 2003. The new agreement will see Qatar Foundation revert to the role of official human development partner of FC Barcelona.
The agreement with Qatar Airways and QSI will run through to June 30, 2016 and is reportedly worth US$46 million per year.
Speaking at the unveiling, Barcelona's vice-president of the economic and strategic area of the club, Javier Faus, said the Catalan giant's shirt will be "the best paid in the world" until Manchester United's huge new deal takes effect. Commenting on the Qatar Airways partnership, Barcelona president Sandro Rosell said: "There is lots of competition and if we want to be at the very top we need resources. There are only a few ways of doing this and in the future TV rights may be less due to the economy.
"The other way is through charging our members more or selling our facilities, which we do not want to do. We have to look for resources via marketing. This is the only way forward. That's what I'd say to the 10% (of club members) who voted against this move."