Barça ditching Nike for in-house kits?

Why Barcelona are considering terminating their $115 million Nike deal and what alternative options they're exploring 👕

Does something look different here?

Barcelona’s fabled relationship with Nike may soon be coming to an end. Since the club partnered with the American sportswear giant 26 years ago, the yellow swoosh has become as synonymous with Barcelona as Estrella Damm and sorority girls Instagramming sunset pics from Park Güell.

There’s good reason for that; Most of Nike’s Barça shirts have been bangers.

From their first home kit in 1998…

…to designs that instantly conjure up memories of legends like Ronaldinho…

…to what many consider to be the most iconic kit (and sponsor) of all time…

…to eye-catching third kits…

…and unique designs commemorating the club’s Catalan heritage…

…it’s hard not to feel nostalgic about one of the sport’s most iconic partnerships potentially coming to an end. For many fans, it’s impossible to picture something other than the swoosh on a Barça kit (imagine Messi in a Puma shirt 🤮). But, the Catalan club are exploring alternatives amidst ongoing financial troubles.

The good

On the surface, Barça’s relationship with Nike seems as fruitful as ever. The club are six years into a ten-year contract they signed with Nike in 2018, which rakes in $115 million a year. This is second to only their arch-rivals Real Madrid, whose partnership with Adidas nets the club $131 million per season.

Barça shirts are flying off the shelves too. According to a UEFA report, The club sold more shirts than any other team in Europe (and almost certainly on the planet) in 2023, contributing to nearly half of Barça’s overall revenue at $195 million.

Man City generated more revenue ($439m) than any club in 2023, but were 11th in shirt sales

It seems everyone wants to wear the hollowed Blaugrana stripes following the club’s 27th Spanish title, so why is the club looking to shake things up?

The bad

Barça are in debt lots of it.

After years of poor transfer business, paying players astronomical wages, and losing out on revenue streams such as the club museum due to the pandemic, Barcelona’s total debt is a staggering $1.3 billion. With a projected profit of only $12 million this season, it’ll take years for the club to get out of the hole at this rate, leading President Joan Laporta to reconsider all of the revenue streams at the club’s disposal.

Ending the club’s partnership with Nike is one such consideration, which is gaining momentum as sources within the club have indicated Barça’s relationship with Nike has hit a “rough patch” in the past year.

The club are considering several scenarios:

  • Renegotiating their current partnership with Nike

  • Exiting their Nike deal and partnering with another kit supplier (Barça execs recently met with Puma)

  • Saying “fuck it” and taking kit production in-house

Laporta and co. will reportedly make a decision by the end of the month, leaving Culers wondering what on Earth in-house kits might look like in the meantime.

And the ugly

The short answer is, not good.

Leveraging their merchandising arm – Barca Licensing & Merchandising (BLM) – for kit production would grant the club exclusive rights to everything sold, but the club would certainly face challenges with fabrication and distribution. Designing a kit is one thing, but getting it in every soccer retailer on the planet is a whole different ballgame.

If BLM’s current apparel line is any indication, the shirts would probably resemble Chinese counterfeits more than officially licensed products.

Jules Koundé in a hoodie made by BLM

While this doesn’t guarantee sub-par kits, the body of work put out by BLM’s design team doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. The designs from other clubs who have tried this approach – namely Roma in 2013-14 – have flopped, too.

Zoom out: No matter what decision Laporta makes, don’t expect the likes of Gavi and Pedri to be sporting the Pumo logo anytime soon. Barça will wear Nike kits next season, giving the club ample time to arrange a potential new supplier ahead of the 2025-26 campaign