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Barcelona tops world football sponsorship table

LONDON - Sponsorship agency Global Sponsors has released a report on the top 10 power brands in world football, with Barcelona heading the list and French side Lyon ranked tenth.

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The football teams were rated by Global Sponsors' Fortune 500 contacts and clients using a points system to judge which clubs provided the best platform for corporate communications through sponsorship. Respondents were also asked to provide their comments on issues they considered relevant in determining which clubs they would or would not seek to sponsor.

Criteria included the history of winning competitions, quality of current sponsors, match-day attendance, quality and capacity of stadium and global media profile among other factors.

FC Barcelona tops the poll and, although viewing figures for La Liga are not as high as the Barclay's Premiership, the team's recent progress in the UEFA Champions League has premium television coverage on a global scale.

With a team including such footballing icons as Ronaldhino and Frank Rijkaard, high audience figures are guaranteed. Barcelona has never had shirt sponsorship, but the involvement of Unicef as sponsors this season was an innovative way of neutralising opposition of fans to sponsorship and of preparing them for a commercial sponsor at the end of the current agreement with Unicef. The deal sees the club pay €10m over five years to the charity, making it the first name on the Barcelona shirt in its 107-year history.

Michael Stirling, commercial director at Global Sponsors, said negative publicity and problems attracting a long-term sponsor had kept Manchester United off the top spot in the power brand ranking. "Last year United found it more difficult than expected to secure a replacement for long-term sponsor Vodafone.

"Many global brands shied away from the opportunity, worried that their brand would be associated with the negative publicity and attention the club was having at the time."

However, Stirling said that with star players such as Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, the key issue for respondents remained sporting success. When insurance company AIG signed a £56.5m, four-year shirt sponsorship deal, it was the biggest deal ever struck for an English football club.

The number three spot is occupied by the Galaticos, Real Madrid. Stirling said despite its branded players, the club's association with commercialisation and money deters sponsors and that the club needs to do more to publicise its charitable activities.

He said: "Some respondents said Real Madrid's record of purchasing big-name signings places the club under greater pressure from sponsors and fans to continue its investment in buying big-name players. Major corporations are insisting that football clubs invest in the community. Many new agreements between corporate sponsors and clubs now insist on this type of activity."

Chelsea, AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Liverpool, Inter Milan and Lyon make up numbers four to ten respectively.


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