September 17 – Barcelona’s president has painted a grim picture of the full extent of the club’s financial crisis, saying its debt had risen to an eye-watering €1.35 billion.
Shortly before their crushing home defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League this week, Joan Laporta (pictured) blamed the previous administration of Josep Bartomeu for the club’s “dramatic” situation that ultimately led to Lionel Messi’s departure to Paris St. Germain.
Laporta accused Bartomeu, who resigned last year, of countless “lies” and said he and his board of directors must be held accountable.
“Our salaries represent 103% of the club’s total income. That’s 20% to 25% more than our competitors,” Laporta told a news conference. “We have found ourselves in a difficult situation to renegotiate the players’ contracts.”
Last Sunday when Barca played Real Sociedad, fans protested against Laporta’s leadership saying he did not do enough to keep Messi. But he responded defiantly.
“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. We found the wage policy in the form of an inverted pyramid – veterans on long contracts and youngsters on short deal. There were no wages cuts – lies.
“We have found that disproportionate payments have been made to intermediaries, not even agents. Barcelona has a negative net worth of €451million – it is a terrible inheritance. What has been happening is very worrying. 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.”
Laporta said the club has no choice but to reduce salaries by about €200 million and the focus for now will be on promoting youth players. But not permanently.
“The strategic plan based on our credibility and experience, on the assets that Barca have, makes this situation temporary. I think that in a couple of years, the club’s economy will be healthy,” he said. “We are not scared at all. We are highly motivated. It’s a big challenge but we are capable of overcoming it.”
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