Barcelona are attempting to launch a new women's team in America that will compete in the NWSL alongside the likes of North Carolina Courage, Reign FC, Portland Thorns, Orlando Pride and others, but the project could already be in jeopardy over sponsorship issues.
Founded in 2012 and in action since 2013, the NWSL is the highest level of women's professional club soccer in the United States and Spanish giants Barcelona have been exploring ways to enter a new side that will use the club's logo and colours into the league.
However, there are potential problems when it comes to sponsorship and it may be that Barcelona require a special sponsor-exemption in order to join NWSL.
That is because there is currently a league-wide sponsorship deal that governs every team. The contract is currently with Nike, and while it could be renewed when it expires later this year, NWSL could also begin a new partnership with another company - adidas or Puma, for example - either for next season or at another point in the future, giving Barcelona a problem.
With Barcelona famously a Nike branded club, a deal which currently runs to 2023, that could cause an issue for any Barcelona-affiliated team in NWSL. This new American venture is intended to be another extension of the overall club in Spain and Xavier O'Callaghan, who heads the Spanish club's American office, has explained that they are not wishing to have sponsorship or commercial requirements dictated to them or compromise in any way.
And that means no Barça kit or branding that isn't in line with every other Barça team.
"We don't want to share our brand. We are very protective of the ways we present ourselves. We want to use our crest, our colours and our sponsors. Otherwise this will dilute the brand,” O'Callaghan is quoted as saying by SportsPro.
"We have a long-term partnership with Nike and we have to play with Nike. If the NWSL changes to a different brand, then we have a problem.
"We are asking for [sponsorship] exemption - but it is not in our hands. We believe we can boost the competition but if there is no way to do it then will not take part in it."
USWNT co-captain and Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan, a known Barcelona admirer, has tweeted her support for a team representing the club to join the NWSL.
"Let's get this done please," were her words in response to news of the request for exemption.
Let’s get this done please.— Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) May 6, 2019
Women's football is rapidly growing in Spain and Barcelona are one of the clubs leading the way. Earlier this year the Catalans were involved as a record crowd in excess of 60,000 attended a women's game at Atletico Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano stadium.
Barça have also reached the Women's Champions League final for the first time this season - only the second non-German or French club to do so in the last 10 years - and will face five-time winners and reigning champions Lyon for the right to lift the trophy later this month.