In a reported effort to increase their payroll, Spanish giants Real Madrid are considering a sponsorship deal with Coca-Cola for the naming rights of their stadium, the Bernabeu.
Coca-Cola are willing to pay Real Madrid around £70m a year to sponsor their stadium.
Madrid are desperately trying to find new ways to maintain their astronomical spending on transfers having broken the record for the fifth time last summer with the acquisition of Gareth Bale. They paid a staggering £86 million for Bale from Tottenham in September and president Florentino Perez sees naming rights as the next step.
Madrid also need extra income to fund a major facelift for the Bernabeu, due to start at the end of the season. Microsoft are also understood to be interested in putting their name to one of European football's most iconic venues.
While there are many stadiums that are so iconic that they should never be renamed—Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Anfield, Old Trafford, Wembley Stadium and Lambeau Field all come to mind—stadium naming rights is a way for teams to earn some fast, easy cash.
While the practice has become standard in American sports, it is far less prevalent in European soccer. Still, it is quite lucrative for those European teams that undertake the practice.
You can understand why Real Madrid would feel they needed to add some cash after paying so much money for one player. To be fair, Bale has lived up to his end of the deal when he's been healthy this season, with seven goals, seven assists and a 7.61 average match rating in 12 La Liga appearances, according to WhoScored.
Still, Los Blancos trail Barcelona and Atletico Madrid by three points in La Liga, and they will surely have to spend big again this summer to keep pace atop the division. When your chief rival is Barcelona, well, you have to keep the money coming.
Thus, the most logical move to expand the revenue stream is to sell off the stadium rights. Fans who value the tradition of the club above all else will justifiably protest, but for a Real Madrid side that likes to make big splashes on the transfer market, the decision makes business sense.