Barcelona’s financial struggles over the past 12 months are well documented, but a report in Spain has claimed that La Blaugrana are in debt to the tune of a whopping €900m (£804m).
The Catalan side have made no secret of just how much the COVID-19 outbreak has hurt them financially, with the lack of income from ticket sales leaving Barcelona unable to balance out their unfathomable outgoings.
Club officials spent the best part of 2020 negotiating with the players to try and convince them to agree to defer their wages to help soften the blow, and after some messy legal disputes, an agreement was finally reached in November.
Barcelona were clearly desperate to find a solution, and if a report from La Vanguardia is to be believed, it’s not hard to see why. The club’s reckless spending over the past few years has left them in €900m worth of debt, with €420m of that needing to be repaid ‘in the short term’.
Sources close to the situation are said to have confirmed that Barcelona are already planning to renegotiate with creditors after accepting that there is no way they can repay that kind of money in the near future.
It will be left up to the new president, who will be elected on 24 January, to figure out a way to help the club manage such ridiculous debts, and it is expected that the players’ wage bill will be targeted.
The first team at Camp Nou earn a combined €170m per season, and the club have already agreed to clauses which will see that wage budget rise by €45m per year until 2025 – an unmanageable rate of growth during the current situation.
Financial issues are nothing new to Barcelona, who have been accused of making decisions without considering the long-term impact. An example given is the €39m loyalty bonus promised to Lionel Messi in 2017 which was been deferred time and time again and only paid last summer, after Messi had voiced his desire to leave the club.
The high wages and promises, coupled with expensive signings like Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann, have seen Barcelona’s financial situation spiral out of control, and now urgent decisions need to be made over how €420m can be found in the next 12 months.
One potential solution under consideration is to stomach another €800m loan to held fund Espai Barca – the renovation project at Camp Nou – and then use the income generated from that to pay off the debts. Definitely a smart move.