FC Barcelona Never For Sale!
Sandro Rossell, president of Barcelona Football Club, has hit out at the financial models of Premier League clubs - and an increasing number of clubs from La Liga too - who have succumbed to so-called Sugar Daddy-ownership, selling their clubs to billionaires from Russia, US and the Middle East.
'Barcelona is not a business, it is a feeling.' He said in a passionate address. 'We are not owned by anybody, we are an association; we do not have 'clients'. I will never put a game on at 12 noon for the Chinese audience. We do want to open up our market but not to forget our roots. While I am the president, Barcelona will never, ever be for sale.'
Indeed for many residents of the city, and of the wider region of Catalonia, Barca FC is tied up with their very identity - a strong Catalan identity that is often keen to disassociate itself from Spain and being Spanish altogether. Barcelona is famously a member-owned club, with 180,000 members making up its constituent parts. However in order to compete with the new-rich clubs like Chelsea, Man City and Malaga, it recently negotiated its first ever shirt sponsorship deal with the Qatar Foundation - something that Rossell is hardly ecstatic about.
'If we did not have to fight against competition which has capital, I would never sell anything on the shirt. It would be virgin.'
It remains to be seen if the debt-ridden club, despite its panoply of stars, will be able to continue the success of the last few years and much will depend on the loyalty of young players like Messi, Fabregas and Busquets to resist the overtures of super-spenders. As for now, they are still the team to beat - even if they are enjoying a rather average start to the 2011-12 season drawing four of their 11 league games and sitting 3 points behind Real Madrid in La Liga.