Microsoft has confirmed it is in talks with Spanish football club Real Madrid over naming rights for the iconic Estadio Santiago Bernabéu stadium.
Speaking on Spanish TV, María Garaña, head of Microsoft España, said the two parties are in early-stage talks over the deal. "We have an excellent relationship with Real Madrid and in fact we recently signed an agreement with its foundation," she said. "They've raised, as have other companies, renaming the stadium and we're only talking about this possibility."
A final decision is not expected until the middle of next year at the earliest, according to reports in the Spanish media. Any potential deal would coincide with major renovation work at the 85,000 seat stadium, which opened in 1947.
Microsoft said in a statement: "We have an excellent relationship with the Real Madrid Football Club. In fact, Microsoft and the Real Madrid FC Foundation signed and agreement on May 2013 in order to promote social projects to help children and young people in Latin America through the sport & technology. In addition, The Real Madrid Football Club uses Microsoft technologies in all its areas. We do not have any further comments." Real Madrid declined to comment.
No figures have yet been mentioned on how much the deal might be worth, but Real Madrid can expect to make hundreds of millions of euros by selling off the naming rights.
A similar deal with English Premier League side Arsenal and Emirates airline covering stadium naming rights and shirt sponsorship is worth £150m, for example. Real Madrid, with a bigger international reach, could expect to top that.
Naming rights to the revamped Santiago Bernabéu is one possible new revenue stream for Real Madrid, which, despite pulling in revenue of €520.9m in its last financial year, is heavily in debt.
Selling stadium naming rights would help pay for the renovation and ensure the club can continue its Galácticos policy of signing the world's best players. This summer Real Madrid broke its own world transfer record to sign Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur for €100m, surpassing the €93m paid for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.
Technology companies have long used football sponsorship as a marketing tool. Samsung currently sponsors Premier League side Chelsea, while Tottenham Hotspur wears HP's logo on its shirts. The likes of Panasonic, LG, Sega, Ericsson and Vodafone have all sponsored football clubs.
In fact, Vodafone is one step ahead of Microsoft in Spanish sponsorship. This summer the mobile company signed a three-year deal to rename Line 2 on Madrid's Metro system Line 2 Vodafone and rename the Sol Metro stop, right in the city centre, Vodafone Sol.
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