For the first time ever, Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium’s naming rights are up for grabs, and a British billionaire who helped launch Mike Tyson’s CBD company is believed to be one of the strong contenders to land the deal.
The Catalan club revealed this week that they intend to seek a sponsor for their 99,000 capacity arena in the heart of Barcelona and donate the proceeds to the fight against coronavirus.
It will be the first time in the club’s history that they have made such a money-spinning move, and comes three seasons before the club has plans to do so, but the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak in Spain left club officials seeking a way to generate funds to aid the local community and Spain as a whole.
And Tyson’s business partner Alki David, who is reportedly worth around $3.2 billion, has thrown his hat in the ring as a contender for the naming rights.
“This is an opportunity that I am bullish about. It is an historic moment in the history of sport and it fits well with my current plans,” said David.
“Contact was opened at the start of the week and I am quietly confident the deal will be secured.”
Barcelona has traditionally resisted corporate sponsorship, but broke that tradition when they allowed global charity Unicef to display their logo on Barca shirts. They then signed a controversial deal with the Qatar Foundation soon after.
Critics of the move suggested that the decision to allow naming rights first to benefit a charity, and then to benefit the club’s coffers soon after, is another example of the club eschewing tradition in favor of a financial lure.
It is not yet known exactly how much money the Camp Nou naming rights will attract, but David says that he expects the highest bidder to have to fork out a considerable sum to secure the prestigious branding opportunity.
“Manchester City got just over £18million for their annual rights, Spurs are now seeking £25m, but Barcelona are on a different level,” he said.
“This deal with the Nou Camp is another way to help. It is full of all the energy that Barcelona stands for. My health company has been working hard with top virologists, including the UK’s Dr Dorothy Bray, to look at any way we can hit this virus.”
As for what the arena might be called if David is announced as the winning bid, he says there are a few options, but the CBD business he launched with Tyson may not be among them.
“Both of my companies make sense for the Nou Camp name because of our association with sports. FilmOn TV has a vast array of sports channels running 24/7 despite the sports lockdown, while Swissx, my health company, has already planned the Swissx Games in Gstaad — and now we’re set to announce the Swissx eFoil Cup in Malibu.
“Swissx Nou Camp has a nice ring to it. That is my preferred choice at the moment.”
David’s association with Tyson on a range of CBD products has been called into question on several occasions, particularly after he flew a private jet to St. Kitts with a cargo alleged to contain around £1.3 million ($1.6 million) worth of hemp plants.
CBD is a substance divined from the cannabis plant and is said to have several healing properties. The psychoactive element of the plant, however, is removed.
However, David is keen to stress that his other business wouldn’t impact his ability to seal a deal with Barca executives.
“I have no criminal record, despite last year’s fun in St. Kitts and various money-grabbing attempts in other meaningless civil claims,” he said.
“My record is as clean as it gets among the big hitters in the business world.”