The popular airline from the Persian Gulf, Qatar Airways, have struck a shirt sponsorship deal with Italian giants AS Roma for the next three years, online sportsbook news report.
One of the biggest sponsorships in Italian football
The sponsorship agreement is one of the biggest of its kind in the top flight of Italian football, believed to be in the region of €40m (£35m) per season, according to Reuters. The deal runs until the end of the 2020/21 season, plus the remainder of the current campaign – the timing of the announcement is not strange, however it’s somewhat unorthodox to start wearing a corporate sponsor on the front of your club’s shirt towards the end of a season.
As a comparison, right before Barcelona broke away with tradition of not wearing a sponsor on their shirts in 2011, they announced midway through the 2010/11 season that they’ve struck a deal with Qatar Foundation. Despite wearing the sponsor’s name on their training kits as soon as the deal was announced, “Qatar Foundation” didn’t appear on their match shirts until the start of the following season when the 2011/12 Barcelona kits came out.
So it’s unusual to see AS Roma – a club without a main sponsor since the beginning of the season or for the last four years for that matter – to suddenly feature a corporate name a few games before the season is over. But if you get offered loads of money to feature a company’s name on your club shirts’ then you do it without question, especially since you’re a side that’s lagging behind others both domestically and abroad.
Qatar Airways is only the seventh sponsor to feature on AS Roma shirts
The Gulf airline previously sponsored Barcelona between 2013 and 2017 (source: Calcio Finanza)
In all fairness and respects to AS Roma on how far they’ve reached this season in the Champions League, €40m per season for a sponsorship deal seems somewhat steep for them. Some clubs around Europe with a much greater success record and a bigger fan base would be envious of this deal, considering that the Stadio Olimpico side have never won the Champions League – the biggest trophy on the continent – while the last time they’ve clinched the Seria A was way back in 2001, online sportsbooks in Italy report. The only other two Scudettos in their history came in 1942 and 1983. So looking at the size of this deal objectively it’s a massive coup for the club.
But it’s worth noting – a similar case to Barcelona – Qatar Airways is only the seventh shirt sponsor in their entire 90-year history. AS Roma’s first sponsor came in the 1981/82 season when they graced the famous pasta brand Barilla on the front of their shirts, while insurance company Nuova Tirrena took over for one year in 1994/95, before another insurance company INA Assitalia sponsored the club from 1995 until 2002. Mazda followed suit after that for a period of three years, while banking group Banca Italease were the official sponsors for a single season in 2005/06. The club from the capital then had telco company WIND as their main partner for six years between 2007 and 2013, before having a charitable organization known as Roma Cares in 2013/14.
“We are delighted to announce this historic partnership between AS Roma and Qatar Airways, two great brands with global ambitions,” said the president of AS Roma, Jim Pallotta.“Today’s announcement is the result of discussions behind the scenes for over eight months with Qatar Airways, led by our commercial team in London with much assistance from the entire Roma team, and comes at a significant time in the club’s history, on and off the pitch.”