LaLiga club RC Celta Vigo have agreed a significant and innovative commercial partnership with the Maldives, which will help promote the Indian Ocean country as a tourist destination to LaLiga’s global audience while strengthening the development of football on the islands.
The sponsorship deal worth around €2.5 million to RC Celta over the next three years was formally signed in Vigo on Monday, at an event attended by club president Carlos Mouriño, Maldives Minister for Tourism Ali Waheed, and former RC Celta, Real Madrid and Spain player Michel Salgado.
RC Celta’s current players including Spain international Iago Aspas and team captain Hugo Mallo will wear the phrase ‘Maldives – the sunny side of life’ on the left sleeve of their jerseys while playing all LaLiga and Copa del Rey games – starting with next Saturday’s trip to Barcelona to take on Lionel Messi’s current LaLiga leaders. The phrase will also be displayed prominently on both the team’s bus and around the club’s Abanca Balaidos Stadium.
“We are a small country, but we dream big, and we hope that in future our youth can benefit from this big step,” Maldives Tourism minister Ali Waheed said at Abanca Balaidos Stadium on Monday. “This is a historic day for my country – we love football in the Maldives and this agreement will promote tourism and also strengthen football in our country. RC Celta is a club we believe in due to its philosophy and youth policy.”
RC Celta is to receive US$ 900,000 per year [US$ 2.7 million in total] during the three-year partnership, which will promote the Maldives to viewers of LaLiga games in Europe, India and China, via TV audience and Facebook. The first such agreement between a country and a LaLiga club will see emerging players from the Maldives train at RC Celta’s academy at A Madroa, while coaches and officials will receive support aimed at developing football in the archipelago. There will also be friendly games scheduled between RC Celta and the Maldives’ national teams.
“For us, at RC Celta it is an honour and enormous satisfaction that we have been chosen to promote the beauty of these islands,” RC Celta president Mouriño said. “One part of this is to promote tourism in the Maldives, and another is the development of football in the country. We hope to collaborate very closely with them. We know we are considered as one of the best ‘Cantera’ youth systems, and not just in Spain. These kids will be able to develop in a very proven system, which has borne fruit.”
A Maldives delegation also including Minister of State for Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment Ashad Ali and Football Association of Maldives president Bassam Adeel Jaleel attended RC Celta’s narrow 0-1 LaLiga Santander defeat to in-form Getafe at Abanca Balaidos Stadium on Sunday. The following day’s signing ceremony of the innovative partnership was attended by international media and broadcast live on national TV in the island country.
The commercial deal is also important for RC Celta, and a sign of the innovative steps being made off the pitch by many LaLiga clubs. RC Celta’s revenues for the 2017/18 season were €76.6 million – of which €6.1 million came from sponsorship and advertising. Among the club’s existing 13 commercial partners are kit supplier Adidas, Galicia’s biggest brewery Estrella Galicia, and financial institution Abanca.
“Our relationships have evolved from basic sponsorships or advertising agreements into multi-faceted partnerships,” says RC Celta’s Commercial Director Carlos Salvador. “This has led to double-digit revenue growth in recent years. For example, with Abanca, besides the naming of the stadium and presence on the kit and elsewhere, our club members can renew their season tickets via ATM machines in just two minutes. There are constant synergies with Estrella Galicia, as RC Celta Group also has hospitality businesses. With the Maldives, besides promoting the tourist destination, above all in China, India and the UAE, we will be working together closely for the development of youth and elite football in the country. Our reputation for youth development helped a lot in all this.”
RC Celta will also benefit from the Maldives deal by having a greater commercial presence in Asia, Salvador says. “Our partners are very important for the growth and expansion of RC Celta on a global level,” he says. “In the case of the Maldives deal, it will help in India and China, both strategic territories for the club. The presence and support of La Liga Santander in these countries are also vital for us, for example, that India fans can follow LaLiga via Facebook is a big advantage.”