FC Porto and New Balance: A match made in heaven

  • Long-standing partnership between club and brand set to continue long-term
  • Ten of FC Porto’s major hounours won during time associated with New Balance
  • Pedro Albuquerque, head of FC Porto international, speaks on nature of relationship

It’s been 20 seasons since Jose Mourinho astoundingly led FC Porto to UEFA Champions League glory in Gelsenkirchen – without doubt one of the finest moments in the club’s rich history.

Arguably Porto’s most famous manager, Mourinho’s name will forever be etched in the club’s rich history alongside Vitor Baia, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, Deco, Maniche, Costinha, Carlos Alberto and many others.

The Portuguese giants are celebrating their 130th anniversary in 2023 and that coincides with the agreement of a landmark new global sponsorship deal with New Balance.

The agreement reinforces New Balance’s commitment to supporting FC Porto’s youth set up, including the renaming of the location where the club’s and Dragon Force youth teams train and compete from Campo da Constituicao to the ‘New Balance Park’, set to take place in early 2024.

The partnership between New Balance and the club has gone on to become one of the longest in New Balance’s 117-year history. One of Europe’s most decorated clubs, the Dragons have won 84 honours with the highlights being 30 Primeira Liga titles, as well as two UEFA Champions League and two UEFA Europa League crowns.

Since FC Porto’s association with New Balance began, the club have won ten of those honours. To celebrate the landmark deal, 90min was invited to attend the Champions League clash with Barcelona at a sold out Estadio do Dragao. While the result wasn’t what our hosts had hoped for, Sergio Conceicao’s side put in a spirited performance and the atmosphere was electric.

Ahead of the clash, the head of FC Porto international, Pedro Albuquerque, opened up on the ongoing partnership, his role at the club and more.

FC Porto's striking away kit is supplied by New Balance

FC Porto’s striking away kit is supplied by New Balance / New Balance

Porto have produced a steady stream of great young players over the past 20 years. What do you put the success of the youth academy down to and how important is New Balance’s support?

“The main reason will always be the talent and the commitment to detecting and developing it. For us, having a partner like New Balance betting on our talents is a source of pride and a sign that we are doing good work. “

When you’re pitching to new sponsors across the world, what are the unique selling points of FC Porto that you try to get across?

“We always try to be associated with the reference brands in each segment. That’s the path we’ve set ourselves. To do this, we rely on the most important help of all; the name of FC Porto, its history and what it represents in both Portuguese and international football. “

You’ve now been partnered with New Balance for two decades. Other brands must have shown an interest, so why has the partnership lasted so long?

“With New Balance, we’ve found a partner who is strongly committed to us. We are a challenging club, just as New Balance is in it’s sector. We’re constantly challenging each other, which catapults us to the level we want to reach, achieving new goals and objectives. “

Tell us about your personal rise from hospitality server to Head of International. No doubt you’ve seen a lot?

“It’s a dream job for me. I can actually say it’s a childhood dream. Actually, it started during school as a host and once I finished school, I had an internship and stayed. Over the years, I had the pleasure of having worked in different areas of the club, which taught me a great deal and gave me different perspectives on the business. Considering the FC Porto universe is the only workplace I know, I can proudly say I’m a product of the club and it’s with great pride that I represent the club’s emblem each day. “

What’s an example of something about New Balance that you feel aligns with FC Porto’s vision?

“New Balance always wants more. It’s this spirit of conquering that reflects perfectly what FC Porto also has in it’s DNA. We always say that our destiny is to win, but it’s not enough to just say it – we need to show it and in that sense, we’re perfectly aligned. “

From being here with you guys, it’s clear that there’s a strong connection between the club and New Balance representatives, is that key to a successful partnership?

“Without a doubt. Human relationships are always the basis for a job well done. We have an almost daily direct contact so that we are striving for the best results for the club and New Balance. Fortunately, we’ve found great people and great professionals at New Balance, as I’m sure they’ve also found at FC Porto. “

It can be quite difficult for fans to feel anything towards a commercial partnership. There’s always a degree of either apathy or cynicism, and to most any one deal is as good as another. But there definitely seems to be something of substance between FC Porto and New Balance; so what from the club’s perspective has made this different?

“We always work towards doing the best for Futebol Clube do Porto. We have great communication with New Balance and we share common objectives with them, because what’s best for FC Porto is also best for them. Our objective is that and the fans have a great understanding of that. “

In your opinion, who is the best player to have come out of the FC Porto academy since New Balance became a partner back in 2014?

“There’s so much talent that it’s hard to choose one. We’d say every FC Porto fan has a different opinion and preference and that’s a sign of the quality of our academy. “

Fan favourite Toni Martinez will continue to be a Team New Balance athlete having already been with the brand for a number of years. Some of the club’s brightest young talents will be supported by New Balance both on and off the pitch highlighting the brand’s long-term commitment to youth development.

The connection between FC Porto and it’s loyal supporters was clear to see during our visit. New Balance isn’t seen as a commercial partner but instead, as a part of the football club. Their values and vision align with those of the Portuguese giants, making this is a partnership made in heaven.

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