How one little logo rocked Barcelona and left Johan Cruyff fuming
For a man whose love of a logo is so strong heÃ¢ÂÂs more turned on by the driversÃ¢ÂÂ brand-plastered overalls than the pit girls at Formula One races, Monday couldnÃ¢ÂÂt have been better for Sandro Rosell.
It was easy to tell just by looking at RosellÃ¢ÂÂs perky, beaming face just how tickled pink the BarÃÂ§a president was to have another logo to stick up on the walls of the Camp Nou club, as well as the institution pocketing some easy cash in the process.
Ever since Rosell took over the club last summer after defeating Joan Ã¢ÂÂJoanÃ¢ÂÂ Laporta in the presidential elections, the former Nike executive had been lustily stealing glances at the front of the BarÃÂ§a shirt in the same way that Maniche greedily eyes pie.
The previous six months had been hard on Rosell with the BarÃÂ§a big wig having to give up his former career of merrily ruining sport through branding it to death by selling his marketing company, BSM - a company that did a fair amount of business in Qatar, funnily enough.
But the Barcelona president had kicked off a cunning plan when he took control of the Camp Nou club which finally bore fruit over the weekend with the announcement of a Ã¢ÂÂ¬165 million, five year sponsorship deal with the Qatar Foundation.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs a deal which will see the Qatar FoundationÃ¢ÂÂs brand plastered all over the clubÃ¢ÂÂs stadium, Leo MessiÃ¢ÂÂs forehead and eventually BarcelonaÃ¢ÂÂs shirts which could be an issue for UNICEF considering both la Liga and UEFA have bans on double advertising - a loop-hole those greedy gizzards in Nyon will surely close at some point soon, as long as they get their cut first.
RosellÃ¢ÂÂs strategy was to arrive at the Camp Nou, claim that the coffers were empty and very publicly announce that a hefty Ã¢ÂÂ¬150m loan had been secured to pay the gas bill and the playersÃ¢ÂÂ wages along with the outstanding invoices for Carles PuyolÃ¢ÂÂs Ã¢ÂÂSoul GloÃ¢ÂÂ.
Next up, it was the drip, drip, drip of invoices arriving at the offices of Marca concerning the alleged wastefulness of LaportaÃ¢ÂÂs directors along with the encouragement of BarÃÂ§aÃ¢ÂÂs members to vote for legal proceedings to start against the old regime in attempt to get some of the money back. Aside from wanting to annoy the heck out of his rival, Laporta, Rosell was softening up the socios so that the announcement of the deal with the Qatar government would be seen as a very necessary evil by the culÃÂ© collective.
Ã¢ÂÂThe economic situation at the club is worse than we imagined,Ã¢ÂÂ gloomed Rosell at the formal presentation of the deal on Monday. Ã¢ÂÂWe have to do this to pay the salaries.Ã¢ÂÂ
The BarÃÂ§a president was also quick to counter the criticism of Johan Cruyff, who complained in his column in El PeriÃÂ³dico that the image of the clubÃ¢ÂÂs shirt had been sullied with something as crude as a logo - apart from the Nike one, of course. Ã¢ÂÂCruyff is a legend and legends are always right,Ã¢ÂÂ grinned Rosell in response.
Whilst Barcelona are more than justified in signing what is the biggest sponsorship deal in football having gone without for so long - a deal that will cover 7% of the institution's annual budget - the club have fallen victim to their previous holier-than-thou attitude which saw BarÃÂ§a themselves paying UNICEF Ã¢ÂÂ¬1.5m a year to promote the international governmental organisation.
Tuesday saw a stinging rebuke from the editor of AS, Alfredo RelaÃÂ±o, a writer who in his defence has been a strong supporter of BarÃÂ§a over the years with an opinion piece noting that Ã¢ÂÂthe jump from UNICEF to Qatar, this immensely rich emirate where democracy is only a far-off Western concept and where apostasy is punishable by death is too far.Ã¢ÂÂ
Over at Sport, a paper always very close to the Catalan club, Joan Vehils writes that there is nothing bad to be said over the deal between PepÃ¢ÂÂs Dream Boys and their new insect overlords. Ã¢ÂÂIf the UN who have a reputation as a humanitarian organisation are agreeing to share space with Qatar...where is the problem?Ã¢ÂÂ
His work buddy, JosÃÂ© Luis Carazo, is a little more forceful in defending the branding and complains that the likes of Florentino PÃÂ©rez in the Ã¢ÂÂmedia caveÃ¢ÂÂ are wrong to comment on the deal - not that he has, to be fair - by ranting that Ã¢ÂÂthey all lie, manipulate and try to start new polemics every day.Ã¢ÂÂ
Carazo is then all with the loadsamoney by boasting that Ã¢ÂÂneither the English clubs, nor the Italians, nor the Ã¢ÂÂmade in FlorentinoÃ¢ÂÂ Madrid receive so much. They are all below BarÃÂ§a.Ã¢ÂÂ
However, it is another comment from the Sport writer that is most telling, an assertion that Ã¢ÂÂthose people who think that BarÃÂ§aÃ¢ÂÂs new sponsor promotes anti-semitic ideas are wrong.Ã¢ÂÂ
If this is an argument required to justify a deal that will not sit well with many Barcelona fans, despite the supposed financial issues of the club, Rosell may soon wonder if the money received was worth it, when other less controversial groups could have been found for the same price.
And after all, isnÃ¢ÂÂt doing marketing deals one of the biggest loves of the BarÃÂ§a presidentÃ¢ÂÂs life?