Japanese giants Rakuten extend Barcelona sponsorship

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Lionel Messi (Getty Images)
Lionel Messi (Getty Images)

Japanese group Rakuten has agreed to continue as Barcelona's lead sponsor for one more season, the club announced on Friday.

The e-commerce giants have chosen to activate the extension clause in their current contract, signed in 2017, which will take the deal to June 2022.

Rakuten and Barcelona agreed to "execute the option provided in the 2017 agreement to extend their partnership for an additional season, once the contract's initial four years had been completed."

A Barcelona spokesperson said Rakuten "will continue to be the club's main global partner and global innovation and entertainment partner and that their logo will remain on the front of the first team shirt for the 2021/2022 season."

The sponsorship extension comes at a testing financial time for Barcelona, with even the world's richest club feeling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The club gave no financial details of the deal but said it provided for "an optimization of planned assets to be able to adapt to the new post-pandemic reality".

Barcelona's initial agreement with Rakuten was for 55 million ($65 million) a year.

"The economic situation of the club is not dramatic, but is highly worrying," Carles Tusquets, president of the managing committee, told reporters on Monday.

"We estimate that to balance the budget we have to make efforts of about 300 million," he added.

Tusquets' statement came in the wake of former president Josep Maria Bartomeu's resignation.

Bartomeu had been engaged in a stand-off with Lionel Messi which ended with Messi remaining at the club but making his displeasure clear.

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