Barcelona seek new head for US office as Trabesinger to depart
By Simon Ward
FC Barcelona, the Spanish soccer giants, are looking for a new managing director for their commercial office in New York, with incumbent Arno Trabesinger set to step down.
The Austrian executive, who joined the Catalan club in November 2015, and oversaw the opening of the Manhattan base in September 2016, is to leave in June.
The LaLiga outfit intends to appoint a new head for the US office in the next month.
Trabesinger arrived after 14 years leading the Spanish arm of the WWP sports marketing agency in Barcelona. Clients included FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Uefa, Dorna, the commercial rights-holder for MotoGP, and Red Bull.
However, it has been reported that Barcelona are looking for a commercial individual with greater knowledge of the North American market.
The US office represented Barcelona's second international base, after Hong Kong, as the club implemented a five-year strategic plan, one of the main targets of which is to achieve annual turnover of €1 billion ($1.4 billion) by 2021.
Trabesinger is the second notable departure, following Gerard Guiu who in December stepped down as the club's head of institutional relations in New York to start "new personal projects."
Last July, Barcelona appointed respected diplomat James Costos as a strategic adviser in the US market. Costos, the US ambassador to Spain and Andorra from 2013 until January 2017, and a declared Barcelona supporter, was brought in to promote the FC Barcelona Foundation, the Barça Innovation Hub and the development of the club’s brand in the North American market.
USA is a target growth market for Barcelona, which has a long-running kit supply deal with sportswear giant Nike, and counts US companies Gatorade, Stanley Black & Decker and Gillette as sponsors.
Last week, the club confirmed a renewal of their prominent sponsorship deal with Beko, the Turkish domestic appliance brand, which is reported to be worth €57 million over three years.
Beko will retain branding on the team's shirt sleeves, and has signed up star defender Gerard Piqué as a global ambassador for its 'Eat Like A Pro' initiative.
Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce company, is now Barcelona's main sponsor, with its logo on the front of the shirts, in a four-year deal worth €220 million that runs until the end of the 2020-21 season.
The club is presently seven points clear at the top of LaLiga and faces England's Chelsea in London tonight in the first leg of a last-16 tie in the Uefa Champions League.