Selling the naming rights to Camp Nou would have once been unthinkable but now its deemed a necessary evil for the cash-strapped Catalans

On Tuesday, Barcelona announced their new sponsorship deal with music streaming platform Spotify, a significant step on a long and potentially painful path back to financial stability.

The “poisoned inheritance” left for president Joan Laporta and his board by predecessor Josep Maria Bartomeu is well known, with the club over €1 billion in debt.

What was less well known was exactly how they planned to get out of it, especially after rejecting La Liga’s proposed deal with private equity firm CVC.

Even following the torturous departure of legendary forward Lionel Messi, and the somewhat easier goodbyes to Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho, La Liga announced on Monday that Barcelona’s spending cap currently stands at an incredible -€144 million (-£121m/-$158m), making the Blaugrana the only team in the league with a negative figure.

The next day Laporta confirmed the Spotify deal, which has been in the works for months and will bring in around €280m (£235m/$308m) plus variables over the next four years.

It sees the club sell something close to sacred, the name of their stadium, which will now be known as ‘Spotify Camp Nou’.

However, while in years gone by, this move may have caused outrage, now it is being viewed as a necessary evil, given the dire state of Barcelonas finances.

Indeed, the deal is likely to be ratified by the clubs members on April 3 with the minimum of fuss.

OFFICIAL: Barcelona announce partnership with Spotify which will see their stadium renamed to Spotify Camp Nou ???? pic.twitter.com/qI9h7Qvl9T

Other sacrifices will also have to be made. Its even possible that Barca could sell a stake in the club to investors, moving away from their entirely fan-owned business model.

It is believed former CEO Ferran Reverter was interested in selling 49 per cent of the club to foreign investors to allow Barcelona to continue competing with state-backed super-clubs such as Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, but Laporta was not keen on the idea.

By contrast, the Spotify sponsorship is a far easier sell, with many fans actually in favour of the deal. While not quite at the level of some previous deals, it is respectable given the many caveats.

Spotify is a well-known company across the world and widely considered ‘cool’ despite the recent Joe Rogan-related controversy.

From a public relations perspective, it is also arguably a step up from the previous agreements with e-commerce group Rakuten and Qatar Airways.

Laporta is also being given credit for the timing of the first major deal of the post-Lionel Messi era.

Barcelona, remember, are presently competing in the Europa League, while the world is still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic and now bracing itself for the economic impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Context is always key and the circumstances surrounding this accord have made it far more palatable for Barcelona traditionalists.

The fact that Camp Nou will not be erased from the stadium’s name has also helped. It will still be informally referred to as Camp Nou by most. Even after its renovation, it wont lose its name.

We’re partnering with @Spotify to bring football and music together like you’ve never seen before ????

The deal, which will be worth €70m (£59m/$77m) a season, will become active from July 1, so it will have an impact on the salary cap calculations for the 2022-23 season, which will likely go from negative to positive as a result.

Nonetheless, Mondays figure was a timely reminder of just how far Barcelona have to go to get their house in order and it deflated any hopes that the club can sign Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland this summer.

After weeks of supposed signs that the Blaugrana could battle for the Norwegians signature, it now seems certain that he will sign for either Manchester City or Real Madrid.

“We will not do anything that puts the club, or its finances, at risk,” admitted Laporta.

Barcelona still have a net debt of €451m (£379m/$494m) and will, therefore, be concentrating on ensuring that both Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho – presently on loan at Atletico Madrid and Aston Villa, respectively – leave the club on a permanent basis this summer.

Barca will also be looking for buyers for players such as Samuel Umtiti, Neto, Clement Lenglet and possibly Sergino Dest.

In terms of incomings, the focus will again be on free agents and the hope is that Ajax’s Noussair Mazraoui will join when his contract expires this summer.

❝@Spotify is an important and modern brand. Our agreement with them is a step forward for the club. Im really happy❞Xavi pic.twitter.com/pCdp93WhH0

Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen and AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie are also poised to arrive for nothing at the end of the season.

Work must continue to raise income, though, and the club are looking at all potential avenues in that regard.

From their failed bid to launch the European Super League with Real Madrid and Juventus – a concept that is not yet dead – it’s clear that nothing is out of bounds.

Indeed, GOAL has learned that the club are considering selling 49% of Barcelona Licensing and Merchandising (BLM), as well as a 49% stake in Barca Studios.

Barca are also working on a new deal with CVC after rejecting La Liga’s plan but may be open to agreeing to some sort of compromise.

The last resort would be selling part of the club itself. That cannot and will not happen in the short term, but it remains a possible if unlikely scenario.

Right now, though, the Spotify sponsorship has renewed optimism among the fans that there is a way out of the financial mire for their beloved Blaugrana.

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