Barcelona Strike £125M Shirt Sponsorship Deal

Barcelona have swallowed their pride and cashed in on a world record £125million shirt sponsorship deal. After years of bucking the trend to donate £1.5m each season and promote UNICEF, the children's fund will have to share the iconic jersey with the Qatar Foundation from next season.

The decision to sign a £25m-a-year deal has drawn a mixed response from fans who took pride in their altruistic endeavours, but comes at a time when the club have amassed £370m debts, which forced them to abandon a bid for Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas after the World Cup.

Although the Qatar Foundation is also a not-for-profit educational body, it was set up by the Gulf emirate's royal family and will be seen as an attempt to boost their footballing credentials.

Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup with Pep Guardiola as an ambassador and the Barcelona coach will head into contract talks with a considerably wealthier Barca in the next few weeks after being linked to the Chelsea and Inter Milan jobs.

Barcelona's five-year deal tops Manchester United and Liverpool's £20m-a-year shirt deals with Aon and Standard Chartered respectively.

Nou Camp vice-president Javier Faus said, "With this agreement, Barca have become the undisputed brand leader in world football, far ahead of their international rivals." The agreement also includes a commitment for Barca to play one friendly per season, not necessarily in Qatar, and the Qatar Foundation will take part in joint projects with UNICEF and the club's own foundation.

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