Barcelona’s stadium will have a formal name for the first time in its 63-year existence after the club announced plans to sell next season’s rights and hand the proceeds to charitable activities and the fight against coronavirus.
The Camp Nou, which means the new ground, became the de facto name of Barça’s stadium after it was inaugurated in 1957, later rubber-stamped in a members’ referendum. Now it will get a surname as the club seek a sponsor for 2020-21 – a first step towards the sale of the naming rights as construction begins on a new 105,000-capacity stadium which they hope to have completed on the same site within four years. The current Camp Nou is Europe’s largest football stadium.
Barcelona announced that they would cede the title rights to the club’s charitable foundation, which would manage the process. They hope to find a sponsor in the coming weeks and plan for part of the monies raised to go towards charities involved in the investigation of Covid-19. Other charities, chosen by the sponsor and the foundation, would also benefit. The deal will last for a year, after which the search for a permanent title holder would continue. Barcelona’s stadium has never had a title, still less a commercial one.
This move is reminiscent of Barca’s decision to name Unicef as their first ever shirt sponsor in 2006. Rather than being paid, the club contributed €1.6m a year to carry Unicef’s name, serving as a soft launch for commercial sponsors thereafter, beginning with the Qatar foundation and then Qatar Airways.
Barcelona said that the plan fits their claim to be “more than a club” and that they hope to be able to “create a wave of hope for millions of people around the world who are suffering due to this pandemic”. A statement described this as a “global crisis without precedents” during which Barcelona have to “assume responsibility”.
“We are very happy to be able to drive forward this initiative that offers something as emblematic as the name of our stadium so that institutions, organisations, businesses may associate themselves with it and as such contribute to the fight against Covid-19 given that their investment will be used to finance research projects on the illness and projects that are working to eradicate to lessen its effects,” the statement said.