FC Barcelona have rarely been out of the headlines over the past few months, primarily due to the sensational departure of Lionel Messi after a lifetime spent with the club.
The president of FC Barcelona, Joan Laporta, has spoken of the “very worrying” financial situation the club is currently in. Having revealed that Barcelona is now approximately €1.35bn (£1.15bn) in debt, he blamed what he referred to as a “terrible inheritance” on his predecessor, Josep Bartomeu.
He also highlighted Lionel Messi’s departure as a key factor in the “dramatic” situation Barcelona now faces, resulting in a Goldman Sachs bridging loan valued at €595 million being taken out to save the company from outright bankruptcy.
Laporta remains adamant that Bartomeu should be held accountable for the financial meltdown currently taking place behind the scenes.
His comments came at a recent press conference when he cited excessive salaries as one of the reasons behind the club’s unsustainable financial position.
“Our salaries represent 103 per cent of the club’s total income. That’s 20–25 per cent more than our competitors,” he said.
“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. The previous regime was full of lies.”
He also went on to blame his predecessor for leaving him with huge stadium repair and maintenance bills to cover, along with failing to be truthful about promised wage cuts.
“We also found that we had to do some urgent repairs to the Camp Nou because otherwise, it posed a risk to the attending fans. We also found out that the club had already received 50 per cent of the TV rights fees in advance.”
“We found the wage policy in the form of an inverted pyramid: veterans on long contracts and youngsters on short deals. There were no wage cuts.
“We have found that disproportionate payments have been made to intermediaries, not even agents.”
Speaking on behalf of Sky Sports News, Kaveh Solhekol warned that FC Barcelona is currently in a “terrible” financial situation, with no obvious way out for the time being.
“Barcelona has a negative net worth of €451 million; it is a terrible inheritance. What has been happening is very worrying,” he said.
“Bartomeu’s (open) letter is an effort to justify management that is unjustifiable. It is an exercise in desperation. They are responsible for everything until March 7. They will not escape their doing.”
Speaking on the future of the club, Laporta spoke confidently about Barcelona’s ability to resolve its financial troubles while confirming its receipt of a bridging loan worth “€550 million with an interest rate of 1.1 percent to restructure the club.”
“The situation is dramatic, but we have good news,” said Laporta.
“The strategic plan based on our credibility and experience and on the assets that Barcelona has 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 Barcelona fans and the entire club to be united. With football and unity, I’m convinced this era will be full of success.”