- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 14, 2011

BARCELONA, SPAIN (AP) - Barcelona emphasized the importance of its sponsorship deal with Qatar Foundation on Wednesday, saying it’s is crucial for the club to approve the deal in order to balance its financial books.

The team jersey already bears the Qatar Foundation logo this season, but the club’s general assembly must ratify the $225 million, five-year deal on Sept. 24. This season is the first time in the club’s 112-year history that Barcelona has sold advertising space on its shirts.

Club Vice President Javier Faus said without the $40 million the club is set to make from the deal this season it “would suffer losses.”

The club announced this month that after years of losses it expects to net nearly $30 million in the coming season.

The European and Spanish champions lost $12.7 million last season and has a debt of $499 million.

“We have carried out an austerity program, focusing on growth and reducing the debt, but we are still in a delicate situation,” Faus said. “Our debt is still too high for us to be sure we can determine our own future. We cannot owe so much money to the bank, and we need to generate more.”

Barcelona had been one of the last remaining clubs in Europe without jersey advertising. Since 2006, the Spanish club had put the UNICEF logo on the jersey as part of a deal in which Barcelona donated $2 million annually to the organization.

The UNICEF logo was moved to the back of the shirts this season.