Barcelona’s president, Joan Laporta, painted a grim picture of the club’s financial plight at a press conference on Monday, revealing the true scale of mounting debt while urging senior players to accept further salary reductions.
Laporta blamed the “lies” of his predecessor, Josep Maria Bartomeu, for the club’s “very worrying” and “dramatic” situation and claimed Barcelona currently has a “negative net worth of €451m” (£384m) and a debt that stands at £1.15bn.
Even after Barcelona resigned itself to Lionel Messi’s departure, its current expense on players’ salaries still exceeds its entire income and the club was only able to register new signings Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia for its opening victory against Real Sociedad after Gerard Pique agreed to a significant reduction last week.
“I thank Pique for his willingness to help the club. His reduction has helped us to register players,” Laporta said. “We can register Kun [Sergio Aguero] with the agreement we plan to have with the other players. I hope the other captains act like Pique.”
Laporta said the club required a total restructuring to repair its financial situation and revealed it has taken a “€550m with an interest rate of 1.1 per cent”. He also highlighted the vast sums the club had previously been paying to intermediaries – including an €8m fee to a South American scout – as well as the urgent renovations required on its Camp Nou stadium earlier this summer.
“The salary policy that we stumbled upon from the previous board is wrong, it’s what the experts call the inverted pyramid, where veterans have long contracts and young players have short ones, and that makes it very difficult to renegotiate contracts,” Laporta said.
“We also found that we had to carry out urgent repair works at the Camp Nou, if we didn’t, the people visiting the stadium would be at risk. The costs of this were €1.8m (£1.53m). Thanks to the speed with which we acted, this Sunday the public has been able to come.”
Laporta later added: “The previous board left the Camp Nou open when there were dangers. And they knew it.”
Despite the club’s wealth of problems, Laporta insisted he was braced for such a situation and believes that “in a couple of years, the club’s economy will be healthy”.
“We are not scared at all,” he said. “We are highly motivated. It’s a big challenge but we are capable of overcoming it.”
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