Yutang Sports interviewed the Global Business Development Director and Managing Director APAC at FC Barcelona, Mr. Jordi Camps, and learned Barça’s recent plans and moves.
Yutang Sports: What’s the role of Asia-Pacific region in Barça’s global strategy?
Camps: The Asia Pacific region is huge for us at FC Barcelona. The region itself is extremely important to us for one very simple reason: our fans are here, over 100 million in Asia alone and growing every day. This presents a huge opportunity for us to grow awareness and understanding of our Club, engage with our fans every day and generate additional revenue streams that contributes to the bottom line of the Club. We’ve recently released our income for the 2018/2019 season, which was €990 million, our highest revenue ever in a season. The season before, we were the first sports club to surpass the billion (US) dollar barrier in revenues to become the highest earning sports club in the world. The Asia-Pacific region is already contributing to that and we want to continue that.
We’re not just here for commercial reasons, but to also engage our fans here in Asia. We have an office in Hong Kong where we manage the China social media accounts including WeChat, Weibo and Douyin. We’ve just completed a Tour of Japan this Summer where we played two games and gave our fans there the opportunity to watch Barça play live. We have 15 partners across Asia, too and they give us the opportunity to reach and engage with fans locally as well. They are invaluable in giving us local expertise and knowledge.
Finally, and arguably most importantly, our brand purpose is to transform the world through sporting excellence. Note the use of ‘the world’; whilst we are a local Club from Barcelona and intrinsically aligned to Catalonia, we know that we have a responsibility globally to help society through sport. That’s why we have 16 Barça Academies across Asia, where we teach sport through the Club’s values and using our unique methodologies. That’s also why we have partnerships through our Barça Foundation which aims to support children and youth through sports and education in values, for the purpose of contributing to a more egalitarian and inclusive society.
Yutang Sports: In terms of business development, what is Barça's vision to the Asia-Pacific market?
Camps: Well, we will continue to develop our B2B model here – we have very strong partners in Asia where the relationship is mutually beneficial. Simply, they allow us to reach more of our fans and they are able to leverage the power of the Barça to tell their own brand story and engage with customers. Our partners in Asia already account for about 40% of our partnership revenue globally – from 15 partners including our main shirt sponsor, Rakuten. We are growing year on year and we want to contribute even more to global revenue for the club. However, whilst we have a very strong B2B business here in Asia, we see the real potential being B2C.
First and foremost, football fans are here in Asia. We know that football is a sport of huge appeal in the region – by the latest estimates from independent studies (Nielsen Sports), there are an estimated 492M people across the region who consider themselves interested or very interested in football. That’s more than any other sport and easily the largest region in the world. As a Club, we believe that there are potentially 109M people in Asia Pacific who are interested in FC Barcelona, which is the largest of any football club (Nielsen Sports).
So, the major commercial question is how to monetise these fans. We have a strong licence model to sell FC Barcelona products across Asia and last year we built the first FC Barcelona permanent museum outside of Catalonia and we chose to build that in China. We need to think more digitally so of course we’re considering how to make the most of the potential in eCommerce and also monetizing digital content.
Yutang Sports: The Japanese company Rakuten is the main sponsor of Barca, if the club wants to recruit more sponsors from Asia or China, where the opportunities are, and what the challenges will be?
Camps: The truth is that the challenges are quite different depending on which country you are in. We are dedicated to understanding each market’s landscape – culturally, economically, geographically – before we enter the market. There’s so much that we can learn from individual markets.
have 5 partners – OPPO, Safeguard, Yunnan Baiyao, SPD Bank, Mission Hills – so there’s much more we can do with other like-minded businesses. The biggest challenge is the reality that we are 8,000 kilometres away from our main product, the first team and Camp Nou in Barcelona. So, we have to create alternative products & services out here in Asia for our partners – whether that is offline experiences, camps, summer tours, digital content.
India is another big market for us and right now our only operations in the country are through the Barça Academy. So we have a huge potential there. The challenge, of course, is that India’s major sponsorship opportunities are Cricket and Bollywood and they take a huge share of brand’s sponsorship budget. So our competitors aren’t even other football clubs in that market.
Yutang Sports: Barça’s staff-related expense is increasing dramatically, will this affect club’s commercial development?
Camps: Well, we recently released our 2018/2019 accounts and this reflects a record income in the history of the club of $1,104M USD with an operating profit of $19m and net profit of $5m. We’ve now made a profit in eight consecutive years and our revenue continues to grow year after year. We’re in line with the club’s strategic plan to generate an annual turnover of 1,000 million euros by 2021. The important thing for us to understand wages as a percentage of revenue and broadly, we are in line with the UEFA recommended level.
Barça has a global commercial strategy. In recent years we have consolidated the strategy of our regional partners. In this way, the Club can work to associate with brands in each particular territories (verticals) and improve the relationship with Barça fans around the world. In each of the categories we seek out the best contracts in the world in terms of sports marketing sponsorship, and continue to be leaders not only on the football pitch, but also in terms of income for sponsorship assets. FC Barcelona are one of the biggest sports marketing properties, and aim to proactively search for the most suitable partners for the brand and the Club.
To be continued here.