FC Barcelona has reported debt of €1.35 billion, described by club President Joan Laporta as a ‘very worrying’ financial situation as he blamed his predecessor, Josep Bartomeu.
Lambasting the former regime of Bartomeu, Laparto criticised his predecessor for a range of policy failings which led to Barceolna receiving a ‘terrible inheritance’ under his own leadership.
These failings include leaving ‘urgent repairs’ needed to the Camp Nou stadium, receiving 50% of TV rights fees in advance, using an ‘inverted pyramid’ wage policy – with veteran players on long-contracts and newcomers on short-term deals – and making ‘disproportionate payments’ to intermediaries.
“The first thing we had to do when we arrived was to ask for a loan of €80 million because otherwise, we could not pay the salaries,” he detailed. “The previous regime was full of lies.”
He added: “Barcelona has a negative net worth of €451 million – it is a terrible inheritance. What has been happening is very worrying. Bartomeu’s letter is an effort to justify management that is unjustifiable. It is an exercise in desperation. They are responsible for everything until 7 March. They will not escape their doing.”
Laporta – who is currently serving in his second term as President of the club – has also claimed that the departure of Lionel Messi to Paris Saint Germain (PSG) was primarily a result of Barceolna’s monetary woes.
However, his other claim that a new contract for the Argentine striker would have taken the club’s wage bill to 110% of Barcelona’s annual revenue has not been accepted by LaLiga, with the President arguing that salaries currently account for 103% of the team’s income, 20% to 25% more than other Spanish top-flight sides.
The President also took the time to thank Gerard Pique for the captain’s ‘willingness to help the club’ for agreeing to a pay reduction, which enabled Barceolna to sign Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia ahead the team’s opening-day victory against Real Sociedad, adding that the club aims to register Sergio Aguero using a similar approach with other players.
He also revealed that Barcelona has taken out a loan of €550 million with an interest rate of 1.1% ‘to restructure the club’ and assist it with repairing its situation, adding that it will take years for the team to return to a stable financial position.
“The situation is dramatic, but we have good news,” the President continued. “The strategic plan based on our credibility and experience, on the assets that Barca have, makes this situation temporary. I think that in a couple of years, the club’s economy will be healthy.
“We are not scared at all. We are highly motivated and positive and morale is high. It’s a big challenge but we are capable of overcoming it. I’d like to call on all Barca fans and the entire club to be united. With football and unity, I’m convinced this era will be full of success.”
Despite its financial struggles, Barcelona – along with Athletic Bilbao and El Clasico rivals Real Madrid – remains opposed to CVC’s €2.7 billion investment into LaLiga in return to a 10% stake in the league.
The club’s opposition means it will be unable to benefit from the CVC funding, but will not have to hand over any share of its future media rights revenue due to a drop out clause.
Furthermore, the team also remains committed to the breakaway European Super League (ESL) project, in addition to Real Madrid and Juventus, joining the other two teams in condemning ‘insistent coercion’ from UEFA, which has initiated disciplinary proceedings against the trio.