Thursday, September 23, 2021

Barcelona debt now stands at €1.35bn, Laporta reveals

SoccerNews in La Liga 16 Aug 2021

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Barcelona president Joan Laporta has once again hit out at predecessor Josep Maria Bartomeu after revealing the LaLiga club’s debt has risen to €1.35billion.

The Catalan giants’ financial problems have been well documented since it emerged in January that their total debt had exceeded the €1.1bn mark.

Barca’s money issues have led to the shock departure of Lionel Messi on a free transfer, while Gerard Pique has accepted a substantial pay cut and fellow captains Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto are set to follow suit.

But years of what Laporta described as mismanagement by the previous board have caught up with Barca, as he laid out the true scale of their debt on Monday – including some remarkable allegations.

“When we took over we asked for a bridge loan of €80m, granted by Goldman Sachs because we would not have been able to pay the salaries of players and employees,” he said.

“The previous board had received an advance of €79m relating to 50 per cent of LaLiga’s television rights and the banks charged it at nine per cent interest.

“The reduction of wages by the previous board was not real. We have found those millions in different types of bonuses and variables included in the new contracts. 

“We have found disproportionate payments to intermediaries, not agents, a transfer that cost €40m and for a purchase premium we paid €8m and a sale premium of €2m. 

“A person was also paid €8m to find players in South America.”

Laporta called a news conference to respond to an open letter issued by Bartomeu on Friday which effectively pointed the finger of blame for Messi’s exit at the current incumbent.

Breaking down the letter into what he alleges are eight different lies, Laporta said: “It obeys an effort to justify management that is unjustifiable. 

“It is an exercise in despair. We have a salary bill that represents 103 per cent of the club’s total income. It represents 20-25 per cent more than our competitors.

“No one is going to escape from those responsibilities. The economic situation is worrying and the financial situation is dramatic. 

“Barcelona has a net worth of minus €451m and a debt of €1.35bn.”

In his lengthy letter, Bartomeu – who stepped down as Barca chief in October 2020 after nearly seven years in the role – questioned why Barca reached an out-of-court settlement with former player Neymar over money owed.

“He talks about Neymar,” Laporta said. “He says that we have forgone €16.7m. That’s another lie, it is not true. And you could remind Bartomeu of the damage that the Neymar case did to the image of Barca. Because it was an infinity of lies. 

“When he sold Neymar for €222m, they had already spent disproportionately. This triggered wages and amortisation.”

Pique’s decision to accept a reduced salary ensured Barca could register new signings Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia for their opening LaLiga game of the campaign on Sunday.

“I thank Pique for his willingness to help the club. His reduction has helped us to register players,” Laporta added. “We can register Sergio [Aguero] with the agreement we plan to have with the other players. I hope the other captains act like Pique.

“The negotiations with the others are going well. Alba, like Busquets and Sergi Roberto, is behaving very well and we hope that we will reach an agreement soon. As soon as we can, we will acknowledge it.”

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