FC Barcelona marketing boss admits Qatar Airways sponsorship extension is intended to buy time to find new partner

Manel Arroyo said the one-year extension would give the club more time to find a different sponsor

FC Barcelona’s marketing boss has revealed that the clubs decision to agree a one-year extension with Qatar Airways is intended to give them more time to find a different sponsor.

The La Liga champions officially rubber stamped the short-term extension in a vote at the club’s 2016 ordinary general assembly, ensuring Qatar Airways will stay on as a lead sponsor until the end of the current 2016/17 season.

The confirmation comes after Barcelona announced in July that the airline would remain its shirt sponsor for the current season. Negotiations surrounding the deal came under sever scrutiny following widespread criticism over Qatar Airways alleged mistreatment of female employees and the Gulf state’s internal politics.

Over one third of the votes were against the renewed deal with 251 voting against the move and 483 in favour.

Barcelona’s vice-president of marketing, Manel Arroyo, said that the extension would give the club “more time to work and negotiate the sponsorship agreement that the club desires.” Arroyo is also understood to have confirmed that the club was looking for a different sponsor in the long term.

He added: “They are difficult negotiations with multinational brands and over significant amounts which range between €50m and €65m.”

Earlier this summer the Spanish giants initially revealed their new kit without a shirt sponsor after talks with other brands such as PepsiCo and Amazon stagnated. Arroyo’s recent comments suggest that the club plans to finally part ways with Qatar Airways at the end of the current season, drawing to an end the relationship which began in 2006.

A 10-year extension with Nike was also ratified at the general assembly. There were 584 votes in favour and only 10 against with nine blank.

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