Santander Said to Pay $22 Million a Year to Sponsor La Liga

  • Spain-based bank will pay about $66 million through 2019
  • League includes Ronaldo’s Real Madrid and Messi’s Barcelona

Banco Santander SA will pay about 60 million euros ($66 million) to become the title sponsor of Spain’s top professional soccer leagues for at least three seasons, according to people familiar with the matter.

The league had been seeking as much as 35 million euros a year. Santander will pay 20 million euros a year for at least the next three seasons, one of the people said, and La Liga will be known as La Liga Santander. The people asked not to be identified because an official announcement is being made at Santander’s Madrid offices tomorrow.

Spokesmen for La Liga and the bank declined to comment.

Long overshadowed by its best teams, La Liga has been on a mission to become a global brand like England’s Premier League. For the past year, Adolfo Bara, the league’s head of marketing, has been aggressively pitching global sponsors -- it recently added Nike Inc. and watchmaker Tag Heuer --and opening offices overseas. The newest La Liga outpost is scheduled to open in Nigeria on Friday.

In contrast, the Premier League recently decided against renewing its 40 million pound ($52.7 million) title sponsorship with Barclays Plc, preferring to let its brand stand alone. To make up the revenue, the English league has signed several top-level sponsors.

Santander’s sponsorship, which also covers the second tier of Spanish soccer, will focus on its domestic clients, one of the people said. The bank, which already sponsors the Ferrari Formula One team and South America’s top soccer club competition Copa Libertadores, is planning new commercials featuring its brand and La Liga.

For its part, La Liga will try to take advantage of the bank’s global footprint, which extends to more than 100 million customers.

“Is this brand going to help us or not and how much they are going to invest in pushing the league?” La Liga’s Bara said in a recent interview. The league’s previous title sponsorship deal with Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA expired at the end of last season.

La Liga is home to some of the world’s top players, including Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and its teams won both of European soccer’s top club competitions last season.

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