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Sunday, May 6, 2012

More Than a Club: FC Barcelona is a Money-Making Machine

My wife and I have been in Barcelona, Spain since Thursday, May second. For those who have not been to this end of Catalonia, you really need to come here. The food is great, the people are friendly and they are just mad about sport. I had a chance to visit the Olympic Stadium and the
Olympic Museum here in Barça.

On Saturday, I also had a chance to visit the Nou Camp-home to FC Barcelona. Barça has an expression about itself: Mas que un club-more than a club. 

There is no question about the passion for Catalans about FC Barcelona. Because of their success-particularly over the past 4-5 years, they also have a world-wide following. 

What blew me away today, was the number of fans waiting at closed gates to be let in for a chance to go have the ulitmate Barça fan experience: a tour of the Nou Camp, including locker rooms, interview rooms a chance to see the playing surface and the press box. All for the rock-bottom price of 22 Euros. I was lucky, I had a coupon, so I only had to pay 20 Euros for the experience. Look, I am a rugby fan first and for most, but I am also a football/soccer fan, as well. I am glad I had a chance to see the Museum and get my picture at the Nou Camp. It's a great facility. I also believe in making money, but with what FC Barcelona was doing, was bordering on the obscene. After you have spent your money on the tour, the tour ended up, not surprisingly, in the FC Barcelona Botiga, or Boutique. Potential shoppers had a mind-numbing amount of Merchandise to buy. All at top dollar-no discounts here. To be honest, for an American soccer fan, it is possible to buy FC Barcelona shirts for less money than what people where charged in the Botiga.

In rugby, I think the closes thing that comes to mind is what happened in New Zealand in the past Rugby World Cup. I know people in New Zealand felt that they were getting bent over in a big way by Adidas for what they were getting charged for All Blacks gear. I was taken aback by RWC t-shirts that were going for 60 bucks. The big difference between what happened in New Zealand, and what I saw on Saturday in Barcelona, is that Adidas and the RWC organizers had a limited time to rake in the cash. In the case of FC Barcelona, it is an almost daily ritual with the faithful lining up to spend their money.

There were also people buying tickets for Saturday's derby match with Espanyol-but there were very few tickets to be had.(a match Lionel Messi and his mates would win 4-0)

At the end of the day, Barça is indeed, more than a club-it is a Catalan money making machine. They have turned making money into an art form.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Steve. Great post. Your visit around Europe looks like it's going to be amazing. As an Arsenal fan I would love to have a look around the Nou Camp museum!

    If you are interested...the reason behind the 'mes que un club' saying is the politics which lay at the heart and sould of the club.

    For a long time (and for some they still feel this way), Barcelona fans did not feel spanish but Catalunian. Their club was linked with Catalunian catholicism whereas their rivals Real Madrid were intrinsicly linked with the institutions in Spain and for a while the fascism associated with General Franco's reign.

    In fact when General Franco and his troops began his assult on Catalunia, it was the Nou Camp where many civilians went for safet. Many current Barcelona players at the time (as well as from Bilbao) also enlisted in the ranks for those who fought against the military uprising and were killed in action.

    It was a devastating period in Spanish history and that is one of the reasons their is so much passion behind the support of both clubs (Barcelona and Real), depending on what political allegiance you had.