TicketManager | FC Barcelona Partnership Represents Philips’ Return to Soccer Spotlight

Word that electronics and healthcare conglomerate Philips is finalizing an agreement to become the new sleeve sponsor of FC Barcelona would be interesting sports business news no matter whom the corporate partner is.

Given the financial difficulties at the world-renowned club, an eight-figure-per-year deal for an asset that has gone unsold since 2021 is a meaningful step in demonstrating economic viability, even if its reported worth of $32.45 million over three years—with six- and seven-figure bonuses for winning select trophies and a mutual option for two additional years at $28.1 million—is 47 percent less on an annual basis than the $20.5 million per year previous sleeve sponsor Beko was said to have paid.

That the partnership comes against the backdrop of charges aimed at LaLiga, the Spanish pro soccer league, for not doing enough to fight racism in the sport only adds to its newsworthiness.

But the fact that Philips is the sponsor also makes the deal noteworthy. While it remains to be seen what the manufacturer of everything from light bulbs, electric toothbrushes and air fryers to defibrillators, ventilators and MRI systems will do, the partnership marks the re-emergence of a sponsor once synonymous with the sport of soccer on a global scale.

Two decades ago, Philips was a FIFA World Cup partner and sponsored the sport around the globe at the professional club, national team (including the U.S.) and university levels. It viewed the sport not only as a worldwide brand builder, but also as an opportunity to use its technological prowess in lighting, electronics and other areas to improve the participant and fan experience. (A reported element of the Barca deal is outfitting the renovated Spotify Camp Nou stadium with the latest Philips televisions.)

A FIFA sponsor from 1986 to 2006, Philips teamed with Yahoo! for the 2002 World Cup to provide what was at the time a revolutionary real-time, graphics-based “MatchCast” feature on the Yahoo!-operated FIFAWorldCup.com website.

Since then, Philips has pulled back from sponsorship, with its only prominent partnership being its oldest. Dutch Eredivisie club PSV Eindhoven was founded by the company in its hometown in 1913 and Philips recently renewed its sleeve sponsorship with the now independent team through 2031. (Philips was the jersey-front sponsor from 1982 through 2016 and also has naming rights to its stadium.)

Whether or not it seizes the opportunity, Philips is putting itself in position to re-establish ties with global soccer fans through Barca, as well as through connections to the club’s other brand partners, most notably Spotify.