FC Barcelona debt stands at 1.35bn euros, Laporta reveals

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FC Barcelona president, Joan Laporta, has said that the La Liga club’s debt has risen to 1.35 billion euros (1.59 billion dollars).

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

Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto are also 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.

“When we took over we asked for a bridge loan of 80 million euros, 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 79 million euros relating to 50 per cent of La Liga’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 40 million euros and for a purchase premium we paid 8 million euros and a sale premium of 2 million euros.

“A person was also paid 8 million euros 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 451 million euros and a debt of 1.35 billion euros.”

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 16.7 million euros. That’s another lie, it is not true.

“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 222 million euros, 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, Busquets and Sergio Roberto, are 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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