(Reuters) – Spanish football club Barcelona sold a 25% stake in its audiovisual studio to digital fan token firm Socios.com for 100 million euros ($102 million), club chief Joan Laporta said on Monday, as the LaLiga giant steps up efforts to bring in revenue to register new players.
Socios.com will come on board as a technology partner accelerating Barca’s blockchain, non-fungible token and Web3 strategies. Socios.com owner and technology provider Chiliz will take a strategic stake in Barca Studios.
“Barca Studios includes (in its portfolio) metaverse, NFTs and Barca tokens. It’s the sale of a stake … it’s in principle forever, we could recover it if something happens,” Laporta said at a news conference to unveil new signing Jules Kounde, who was bought from Sevilla.
Barca has been using several mechanisms to increase its revenue in order to offset losses, reduce debt and fulfil LaLiga’s financial fair play rules.
Socios.com will support Barca in its efforts to build new digital connections with its global fan base of 400 million.
The deal comes after the club last month sold a further 15% stake in its LaLiga TV rights to U.S. private equity group Sixth Street, giving Sixth Street a 25% stake.
The club signed Brazil winger Raphinha from Leeds United and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich following a first investment from Sixth Street when it bought 10%.
Laporta, who presided over one of Barca’s most successful periods between 2003 and 2010, said in August 2021 that the club’s debts totalled 1.35 billion euros, with 673 million owed to banks.
In June, Barca approved the sale of a minority share of its licensing and merchandising division and the cession of up to 25% of its income from its LaLiga TV rights.
The club has also signed a shirt and stadium sponsorship deal with Spotify in an agreement worth 280 million euros and approved financial plans in December to renovate Camp Nou, including raising an additional 1.5 billion euros in debt.
($1 = 0.9752 euros)
(Reporting by Joan Faus and Shrivathsa Sridhar; Editing by Susan Fenton)