Barcelona fail to reach record shirt sponsorship deal with Qatar Airways

Joe Hall
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Barcelona Qatar Airways
Barcelona have been sponsored by Qatar Airways since (Source: Getty)

Barcelona and Qatar Airways could soon fly their separate ways, as the European champions struggle to negotiate a renewed deal with their shirt sponsors.

The Catalan giants are chasing a record sponsorship deal but the Qatari-owned airline is unwilling to play ball, according to reports in Spain.

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu and vice-president Manel Arroyo were both in Doha this week to thrash out an agreement to extend the partnership after it expires at the end of this season.

Read more: Will Barcelona fans accept a new Qatar sponsorship?

According to Spanish newspaper Marca, Qatar Airways are offering €65m (£46.8m) but Barcelona are holding out for a deal that matches Manchester United's record £53m deal with Chevrolet.

Barcelona have had ties to the gulf state since 2010 when the Qatar Foundation became only the second shirt sponsor in its history before being replaced by Qatar Airways from 2013/14 in a deal worth £25m a year.

Yet the partnership has not been without controversy. During a recent presidential campaign - won by Bartomeu - the club's Qatar Airways sponsorship was at the forefront of the debate with many members concerned with the country's treatment of workers.

A decision on the sponsorship's future was expected at Sunday's annual general meeting but has now been postponed.

Middle Eastern investment is increasingly playing a major role in European football. A recent report on Asian investment in football from sports industry researchers Repucom revealed 20 of the major European football clubs are sponsored by Middle East Airlines, including Real Madrid who are sponsored by the UAE-owned Emirates.

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