FC Barcelona: The rescue of Barça | sports
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With no money in the box, burdened by short-term debts and a negative net worth, Joan Laporta found a bankrupt club on his return to the Barça presidency. “Bartomeu’s management was disastrous,” warned Ferrán Reverter, the CEO, at the presentation of the audit last week. The economic vice president, Eduard Romeu, goes one step further. “I would say that there was even bad faith. They played with Barça ”, explains the manager. “The blame has to be shared or, at the very least, the responsibility has to be. There was a board of directors, yes. But there was also an economic commission and a regulator like LaLiga, which, by the way, today is very belligerent and I don’t know if in the past it looked the other way or simply escaped them, ”the vice president emphasized in an interview with EL PAÍS. The businessman, one of the main guarantors of the Laporta board – the Audax group participated with about 30 million out of a total of 125 -, will present a debt of more than 1,350 million next Sunday at the Assembly of Commitment Members and will present the Espai Barça, the project of the new stadium that will cost 1,500 million.
Debt is no longer pressing. When Laporta regained the presidency of Barcelona, he delegated the economic area to Romeu and Reverter. “Barça is not in the hands of the guarantors. We have collaborated with the president because we believe that he is the best option for the club. But there are different areas of action. In mine, Laporta has no interference. Let the CEO’s team work, ”says the vice president. When he took office in March, the first thing the current board encountered was with short-term obligations of 160 million. There was only half in the box. Goldman Sachs appeared. First to give up 80 million that allowed him to get out of trouble, and then they were stretched to 595 to restructure the debt.
Of the 1,350 million in debt, 673 correspond to bank debt. The rest of the obligations are with players (389, deferred salaries and various commitments), Espai Barça (56), television previews (79), litigation (96), subscribers that cannot be collected (40) and other concepts (17 ). “People may wonder how it is that in such a hurry we seem calm. We are because the Barça brand has a value. It is easy to resort to cheap credit, ”says Romeu. According to a Forbes report last April, Barça is the most valuable club in the world (4,125 million), followed by Madrid (4,117), Bayern (3,653) and United (3,640).
“After analyzing Barça’s balance sheet, which was a bankrupt balance, getting funding was a science fiction maneuver. But the Barça brand, the power of our millions of fans and the casuistry of our club were valued. We get financing because we have a plan ”, he points out.
Rescue strategy. Jaume Roures, founder of Mediapro, and also a personal guarantor of the Laporta board until November, suggested that one of the alternatives to save the club from ruin could be through a spill: “In any company, if money is lost it they put the owners and the members are the owners of the club ”, he affirmed in RAC1. The idea, however, is not approved in the Camp Nou offices. “It would be an immediate solution, but it is not in the portfolio. Nor is there the one to become a direct or indirect limited company. We are able to find an imaginative solution ”, explains Romeu. The first action contemplated by the directive is to reduce spending. So far, nothing original, after the departures of Messi and Griezmann and the salary cut agreed with Piqué, Busquets and Alba.
“We have reduced by 155 million, but we have to continue cutting”, says Romeu. Barcelona will present a budget for the 2021-2022 season of 378 million in sports payrolls between the suppression of high chips and postponements of part of the salaries, the lowest figure since the 2016-2017 season. The main idea of the board, in any case, is to increase revenue, now forecast at 765 million. And, a net result of five million. The horizon, in the medium term, they see encouraging. “In 2026, the budget has to be 1,500 million. And the wage bill must be, at most, between 55% and 60% of income “, he adds. The club works on the sponsorship of the jersey. They want more than the 55 million euros per season that Rakuten paid. “We have two or three options,” he says. In addition, the obsession of the economic area is based on monetizing followers. “You have to value the 400 million fans on social networks. Barça and Madrid have dominance, they double the third ”, explains Romeu. On Instagram, for example, the Barça club has 101 million for Madrid’s 104.
The new house. Barcelona is working on the plan to remodel the Camp Nou and the Palau Blaugrana. The total cost of the work will be 1,500 million. “It is the project for the next 100 years,” says Romeu. To finance the entirety of Espai Barça Goldman Sachs will once again write down his name on the Barca liabilities. “It is an operation that has to pay for itself with the exploitation of the business. In addition, as it already happens in other clubs, it has to allow us to be more competitive and generate additional recurring income. Naming rights is also a possibility that I think we have to consider. I do not conceive that it is for less than 300 million ”, maintains the vice president.
The club, in any case, understands that the priority is to reverse the patrimonial situation, in red in the last balance (451 million). The board will present the project in the Assembly, as will also be asked to leave in suspense and provisionally without effect the article of the statutes that establishes the obligation to resign from the board of directors in case of accumulating two years with losses. “Espai Barça is the most important thing. It will take about five years, but we have to generate benefits now, ”says Romeu.
Messi, no; CVC, yes. In the midst of Barça’s economic crisis, the departure of Messi, one of its main assets, was surprised. “Of course I miss Messi. He says he put everything on his side. I believe him, just as he should believe us when we say that we did what we could and more ”, says Romeu. The departure of 10 was conditioned by Barça’s refusal to accept the agreement with CVC (it injected money in exchange for an annual percentage of the result of the exploitation of television rights for 50 years).
Barça, today, does not rule out accepting the money “if it is done differently”, according to the vice president. And he also thinks of a different Super League fit. Always with Madrid, of course. “The models are different, but our potential leads us to have things in common. We give each other feedback The Super League cannot be imposed. It is something that everyone has to benefit from. You have to go hand in hand with the agencies. We must not break ”, concludes Eduard Romeu.
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