Qatar Airways, the outgoing jersey sponsor of Spanish sports giants Barcelona, has been talking with other football clubs about potential deals, the company's chief executive said. Akbar Al-Baker though, refused to say if the Gulf carrier is now looking towards a potential sponsorship deal with a team in the English Premier League.
"We are looking at negotiating further with clubs that will give a very good reflection of our brand," Al-Baker said. "We represent a very strong international brand, recognized all over the world. We will look at other opportunities, of course, because sport is a very important branding platform for airlines," he continued. The current deal runs out at the end of next June, bringing the curtain down on a sometimes fractious four-year relationship between the Spanish champions and the Gulf carrier. The initial contract ran out last year but was replaced by a 12-month deal announced in July. Last month, Barcelona announced that Japanese online retailer Rakuten will be its main sponsor for the next four years in a deal worth at least 55 million euros ($59 million) a year."We have lost it unfortunately because somebody had more cash than us," Al-Baker said of the expiring deal. However, he added that Qatar Airways were currently in talks with the five-time European champions to become the club's official airline.