Real Madrid made some big business news today as they struck deals with Microsoft and IPIC. Microsoft is well known worldwide and if you are reading this, you most likely know who Microsoft is. IPIC is not as well know. IPIC, or International Petroleum Investment Company, is a government owned energy investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi royal family. Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is Chairman of the Board at IPIC. Sheikh Mansour also owns Manchester City.
The Microsoft partnership is a digital and cloud partnership between the company and Real Madrid. Microsoft VP Orlando Ayala said the following on the partnership:
“Powered by Microsoft’s cloud solutions, we will offer fans exclusive, personalised and customised content and digital services.”
“So fans will be able to choose not only what content they want to access but also create their own customised versions of an experience whenever, however, and from wherever.”
“And because sport is intrinsically community oriented, we’re setting up social and other digital ways for fans to share these experiences with friends and family in real time.”
IPIC’s partnership with Manchester City will be a little more traditional and straight forward. IPIC is investing in Real Madrid’s $500 million upgrade of the Bernabeu. While specific plans on what will be upgraded wasn’t revealed, Real President Florentino Perez accidentally revealed that the Bernabeu would be renamed to include IPIC in exchange for the upgrade funds. During the news conference introducing Microsoft’s partnership, Perez said in regards to the naming rights, “”We will put IPIC Bernabeu or whatever they want…or Cepsa Bernabeu.”
With UEFA Financial Fair Play becoming a bigger and bigger part of European soccer, teams have to get more and more creative in how they earn enough money to avoid sanctions. An unfortunate consequence to this is inserting brand names on stadiums, pitches and stands. At least Real Madrid is making a compromise and keeping Bernabeu a part of the name. If something can make money, it’s going to happen. There’s just no way of avoiding this. It’s a lucrative revenue generator that teams like Manchester City and Arsenal have done to make their teams better and it only makes sense for other teams to do the same in order to keep up. Just like how shirt sponsors were once frowned upon a few decades ago, they are now accepted as normal and it’s something fans look forward to whenever there is a possible change. As a soccer history buff, I’ll shed a tear if I see stadiums like Old Trafford and Anfield become Chevrolet Old Trafford and Dunkin Donuts presents Anfield, but on the other end of the spectrum, as someone who’s interested in the business side of soccer, it’s inevitable.