Santander bank to sponsor Spanish football league

Madrid (AFP) – Santander, the eurozone’s largest bank, will sponsor the Spanish league for at least the next three seasons, the two sides announced Thursday.

The Spanish bank will take over from BBVA, its main domestic rival, which has held the naming rights to La Liga since the 2008/09 season but decided last year not to renew its contract.

Under the deal, which can be extended for a fourth season, La Liga will change the colour it uses on promotional material from BBVA’s blue to Santander’s red.

Spain’s top flight league, widely considered one of the best in the world, will change its name to La Liga Santander from Liga BBVA while the second league will be renamed Liga 1,2,3 after a Santander checking account that offers higher interest rates.

Neither Santander nor La Liga provided financial details although La Liga president Javier Tebas said it was worth less than the deal signed with BBVA.

“Santander has what we were looking for. We were looking for an organisation to help us with the internationalisation we’re lacking,” he told a news conference.

“It’s impossible to avoid talking about the financial issue, but when we made the decision, money wasn’t the important thing. Today, we want to be close to those who will help us grow and continue to be the best league in the world, just like Banco Santander is the best bank in the world. From now onwards, La Liga will always be red hot.”

Santander will pay around 20 million euros ($22 million) a year to La Liga, down from the 26 million euros per year paid by BBVA, according to Spanish media reports.

The bank boasts 121 million customers, with a strong presence in Spain as well as other key European markets such as Britain and Germany as well as in Latin America and the United States.

Santander already sponsors several other high-profile sporting events. It has long been one of the main sponsors of Formula One motor racing and it sponsors the Copa Libertadores, the most important club football competition in Latin America.

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