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Sources: Barca near agreement to sign De Ligt

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ESPN FC  By ESPN

Joan Laporta would scrap Barcelona's Qatar sponsorship deal

Barcelona presidential candidate Joan Laporta has indicated that he would scrap the club's Qatar Airways shirt-sponsorship deal if he were re-elected.

Laporta, who was president between 2003 and 2010, has confirmed he is running in next month's election and he was the overwhelming leader in recent readers' polls conducted by Madrid-based papers AS and Marca.

He has previously criticised the five-year sponsorship deal with Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), which was agreed by Sandro Rosell shortly after Laporta's exit and is worth €165 million.

Barcelona had not previously carried corporate sponsorship on their shirts, and in 2006 the club agreed a deal with UNICEF -- the United Nations Children's Fund -- that saw them pay the organisation to wear its branding because, Laporta said, he considered it the best way to live up to the "Mes que un club" ("More than a club") slogan.

The subsequent deal with QSI, which is in place until 2016, was controversial at the time it was agreed and Laporta has now said in Mundo Deportivo: "The club has many other way of generating revenue. It is a matter or values. I want to rescue the values of our club." 

Former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell agreed the QSI sponsorship deal in 2010.

Josep Maria Bartomeu, who stepped down as Barca president soon after the end of the season ahead of his bid for re-election, said in January that the club was reconsidering the sponsorship agreement due to the "social and political" situation in Qatar.

However, Bartomeu, who had initially served as Rosell's vice-president after the 2010 election, has been keen to emphasise Barca's improved finances since Laporta left.

"We took up the club in a good sporting situation, but financially troubled," Bartomeu said last week. "We took over the club in 2010, and the financial structure was unsustainable."

On the Qatar Airways deal, he added: "It is the only serious and official offer that has arrived at the club in writing and which has complied with our demands, but it will be after the elections that a decision has to be made."

Bartomeu and Laporta are among six early candidates declared ahead of elections at the Camp Nou on July 16.

Meanwhile, Sport has reported that Barcelona have already readied their kits for the 2016-17 season, with vertical stripes to return in place of next season's horizontal stripes, but the Catalan newspaper added: "The only doubt now is the presence of Qatar Airways."

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