FC Barcelona | Treading on Tradition
(Posted on 07/09/17)
Since the late 1970’s and early 80’s football has been rife with sponsorship and advertising from businesses looking to make a profit on the back of an army of loyal band of supporters.
From no more than adverts in football programmes selling Bovril or cigarettes and perhaps a few signs up at the ground, the game was essentially pure in the fact that football shirts were left as a traditional colour scheme and a badge, that’s it.
But with the rise of replica shirts sold to supporters, shirt sponsorship came to be a massive money-spinner for clubs and a huge investment for corporations.
When you think of pioneers for both football and marketing, you think of the big clubs in England such as Manchester United, Liverpool or Arsenal. However, in 1976 Southern Premier League side Kettering Town broke away from everyone when ‘Kettering Tyres’ was plastered across their red and white strip for the first time in a game against Bath City.
Since then, the game became unrecognisable, with 99.9% of football clubs deeming this type of revenue essential. Not only did the front of the shirt become value billboard space, but so did the back. The 2017/18 Premier League shirt has now even allowed sleeve sponsors with shirts becoming more and more like their cousins in South America.
But one club that was part of the 0.01% was one of the most unlikely of them all, the Catalan giants that are FC Barcelona. In 2006 they were yet to ever have a sponsor on their famous blaugrana shirt, sticking to their traditional red and blue with the only change really coming from who supplied the kit. At that point Nike were eight years into their deal which began in 1998, and still stands today.
On this day, September 7th 2006, the Spanish giants allowed a sponsor but not in any way like it’s traditional sense. UNICEF, a worldwide charity who combat poverty in third world countries had their logo on the front of Barca’s shirt, and not only did they not pay a penny for it, but Barcelona gave them 0.7% of their revenue. Essentially, Barcelona were sponsoring them.
Those shirts were worn during the clubs most successful stint of all time under Pep Guardiola, winning the UEFA Champions League in 2009 and 2011 as well as three La Liga titles on the spin.
The deal is still on-going, with UNICEF still on the shirts at the Nou Camp, only now on the back making way for the 29,000,000 Euro deal with Qatar Airways in 2013, angering many supporters. Having gone from no sponsor in 2006, to eight years later selling advertising space to Beko on their sleeves. The deal was beginning to show the break from tradition from the Spaniards, who were not allowed to wear the Beko sponsor in the Champions League.
Is football hurtling away from its traditional roots? With other sports acting as walking sandwich boards and new advertising rules being lacked every year, it looks like the football shirt may never look the same again.
Check our our more in depth blog on the history of football shirt sponsors by clicking here.
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