Barcelona president Joan Laporta has revealed that the club is in €1.35 billion worth of debt, a €200m increase from the figure that was reported in January.
Barça’s horrific off-field problems have been common knowledge for some time. Years of overspending on wages and transfer fees have finally caught up with the club, resulting in Lionel Messi being unable to extend his contract this summer.
Off the pitch, the bad news continued on Monday with Laporta revealing the full extent of the club’s financial problems in a press conference. As well as confirming that debt levels had risen further, he also admitted that Barcelona currently has a net worth of negative €451m.
Laporta blamed the dire situation on former president Josep Maria Bartomeu’s door. Bartomeu recently penned a letter to his successors explaining the decisions he took. Laporta dismissed it as “full of lies”.
“Previous board just ignored financial controls. Just like in Barçagate, other invoices were ‘split up’ to avoid having to go through oversight as they should have. Including Espai Barça [Camp Nou rebuild],” he said (via Dermot Corrigan).
He also accused Bartomeu of conning the club’s members and reserved special criticism for his handling of the funds they received from selling Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain for over £200m.
“I would remind Bartomeu of all the damage the Neymar deal did to Barça’s image. There were 4 open cases with Neymar, we thought best for Barça’s interests to settle and avoid more risks.”
It’s not true that the club’s salary bill exploded to compete with the state-owned clubs. It was mis-spending the €222m from Neymar, in salaries and amortisations. The transfer policy of the club was just bad.”
Although the situation is dire, Laporta said he was hopeful of digging the club out of their financial hole. He revealed his confidence that Sergi Roberto, Jordi Alba and Sergio Aguero would agree to wage cuts similar to Pique’s and hinted that further cuts to the playing budget would be required.
“Players have a fixed salary and bonuses for performance and trophies. Some like Pique have agreed reductions. Others are contemplating a deferral or a lowering of their bonuses. We are looking for solutions, to restructure it all, the whole squad,” he said.
“The squad already reduced salaries due to COVID. Now we ask for a second effort, first response is surprise as nobody likes to lower their salary. But given the situation they are starting to understand and we trust we can resolve it asap w/ captains, then other players.”