Sports

NAME CHANGE FOR NOU CAMP?

REPORTING FROM 
BARCELONA

It is one of the most hallowed football grounds in the world and home to one of the best football teams for more than 50 years.

But the Nou Camp, Barcelona's home ground since 1957, may have a "surname" soon in a partial naming rights deal that would help finance the refurbishment of the club's ground.

In an interview with Singapore media after the announcement yesterday morning (Singapore time), Barca's director for economic and strategy Jordi Moix said: "We have to finance the whole investment in the most affordable way and, after analysing all the options, the best option is this.

"The name of Nou Camp will remain, but we feel that it makes sense to use that source of fund.

"We think that to do it in such a manner is preferable to asking the members to pay for it, especially with the economic situation that we have now in Europe."

Barcelona's economic vice-president Javier Faus told the news conference that the members - who collectively own the club - would have to vote on any name change and it "would have to be one that the members want", using "Nou Camp Coca-Cola" as an example.

The 600-million euro ($1.04b) plan was unveiled by Barcelona president Sandro Rosell yesterday morning in a 75-minute press conference, following an extraordinary meeting with the board of directors.

NO SITE CHANGE

The proposal will see 420m euros being channelled into the rebuilding of the stadium on its current site, with the rest going into upgrading of surrounding facilities, such as restaurants and VIP boxes.

The construction will take place between 2017 and 2021, with portions that affect the spectators' visibility of the pitch conducted only during the summer break.

The partial naming rights deal is estimated to bring in about 150m euros, with the rest coming from bank loans, hospitality and the club's own reserves.

Nou Camp's 98,000 capacity will be increased to 105,000 after the renovations.

Moix said that proposed change will allow its members to enjoy top-notch facilities that other world-class stadiums offer now and will generate more revenue to help the team stay competitive against the world's best clubs.

But the club's members will put the issue to vote in a referendum on April 5 and 6.

The club's board of directors also considered building a new stadium elsewhere in the city but the idea was ditched in the end, citing difficulty in construction and high costs.

Rosell said: "The option of building a new stadium on a new site has been rejected as the final cost could have saddled the club and its members with debt and tied the hands of future boards of directors."

l Say Heng's trip to Barcelona is courtesy of Puma Singapore

FOOTBALL