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20.10.2008 19:29

"We’ll bring the Barça image and brand to Miami"

Vanessa Forns

FC Barcelona’s corporate CEO, Joan Oliver, has set out the details of the recent bid presented by the club in Miami to become joint owner of an MLS franchise. He says that no financial risk is involved.

Speaking at a press conference, Joan Oliver said that the project, which does not entail any financial cost for the club, is not being approached as a commercial transaction but rather is designed to “reinforce Barça’s presence and impact in the US”. As a result, “all sports and image decisions will be taken by FC Barcelona”.

A consolidated League

Joan Oliver said that “this is a project with a view to the future” and that the club has decided to do it now because Major League Soccer (MLS) is more consolidated and is growing in the US. “We have also found the ideal place and people to run the franchise,” added Oliver.

Key Miami market

Here Joan Oliver pointed out that the team will be based in Miami, one of the biggest US TV markets (along with New York, Los Angeles and Chicago) and which does not at present have an MLS team. “It’s a gap waiting to be filled,” he said. In addition Miami “is undergoing population changes, with an influx of people from Latin America who have a football tradition”.

Well sited stadium

In addition the Barça project has another advantage in its stadium. The franchise will play at the Florida International University ground which seats 18,000, though capacity can be expanded up to 25,000, and has a strategic location in the city in a thriving area. “All of that means this franchise can work,” said Oliver

No financial risk

The initial cost of the franchise is $40 million, a sum to be provided by the group of investors led by Bolivian Marcelo Claure, who runs the largest company headed by a Latino in the US. Barça, by contrast, will have no financial risk. “The only risk we face is to our worldwide prestige, and that’s why we’ll be taking a hands-on approach in the sports management of the team,” said Oliver. “We provide the image and the brand.”

Board fully informed

The negotiations have been handled with “the discretion required by any issue when it’s still awaiting a final decision,” said Oliver. He stressed that the project has been undertaken “with the full knowledge of the Board” and announced there would be a Board meeting on Tuesday 28 October to approve the plan. If the project goes ahead, “we’ll put it to delegates at the year’s general meeting”.

The press conference was attended by the Vice-Chairman for marketing and media, Jaume Ferrer, and the Vice-Chairman for sports, Rafael Yuste.
“We’ll bring the Barça image and brand to Miami“

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“We have to make sure we are always first”
Joan Oliver is in no doubt as to the response of the Barça fans and members to this project. “They know we need to be in the front rank, competing on a world scale,” he said. “We have a unique model, and nowadays we not only have to compete with Eastern European entrepreneurs but also with multimillionaire projects coming out of the Gulf. Our great weapon is having a worldwide presence and growing and making sure we are always first.”

Thus this project must enable Barça "to compete with other economic models in football” that are very different from Barça’s – in which the club is owned by its members – in order to become “a global club yet one which at the same time is able to defend its philosophy ".

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