Barcelona’s accounts presented a loss of €481m (£409m) for the end of the 2020-21 financial year – but how has it come to this?
In August, Barcelona president Joan Laporta opened up on the “very worrying” financial situation when revealing the club are €1.35bn (£1.15bn) in debt.
A summary of their accounts at the closure of the 2020-21 season shows the club recorded a 26 per cent, €224m (£191m), drop in revenue from the previous year, citing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as a primary reason.
Barcelona said the estimated impact of Covid-19 is €181m (£154m), mainly due to the inability to open both the stadium and other club facilities.
Operating expenses increased by 19 per cent to €1.136bn (£967m), an all-time record figure at the club, while transfer income was €56m (£48m), a decrease of €92m (£78m).
Analysis: A complete mismanagement
LaLigaTV presenter Semra Hunter on Sky Sports News:
“What has happened here? The previous board completely mismanaged all of the funds and money they had at the club.
“Laporta essentially reconfirmed they had €1.3bn in debt, and explained the reasons they got to that point. There are many reasons, but the most important are that they overspent on contracts, they overspent on salary raises, overspent on club management, on singings, and they made singings when they didn’t even have money, like Antoine Griezmann for example.
“On top of that they were paying for things on credit, so they would go to banks and ask for about €100m on a loan, and they would also do this without passing it through the general assembly, which is where the members of the club would vote on these.
“According to Laporta, they were all improvised, there was no financial planning, and in fact had they been a business, they’d have been in the red and would have had to file for bankruptcy, and would have been dissolved.
“But because this is Barcelona, as soon as this new board came in, they refinanced the whole project, and have tried to turn things around, cutting costs wherever they can. It’s going to take them a while to sort it out.”
Analysis: Why sacking Koeman could cost nearly €20m
LaLigaTV presenter Semra Hunter on Sky Sports News:
“Koeman is still the manager, and a lot of that has to do with whether Laporta wants to spend the money on sacking him or not, and whether he can find a replacement, which at this time there isn’t.
“According to reports, sacking Koeman would mean a severance package of €12m. On top of that, there are reports that if he doesn’t complete a third season, they would have to pay him back the €6m that he put up to pay to the Dutch federation to break his contract to go and manage at Barcelona.
“So he would be owed around €18m to €20m, which is a huge amount of money for Barcelona to pay right now.
“They must decide whether they want to get rid of him, but it will be determined on whether Laporta can find a replacement for him, which at the moment they don’t currently have.”
Barca CEO explains club’s Super League support
Barcelona’s CEO has said the club supported the European Super League to enforce tighter financial controls on teams as UEFA’s financial fair play (FFP) model plays into the hands of state-backed clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City.
UEFA launched the FFP regulations in 2009 to aim to stop clubs running big losses through spending on players although the organisation relaxed the rules following the COVID-19 pandemic, removing the obligation to break even.
The rules came under scrutiny following Qatari-backed PSG’s transfer activities last summer, in which they signed Barca’s all-time top scorer Lionel Messi as well as Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Georginio Wijnaldum on free transfers while paying huge wages to beat their rivals to the players.
Abu Dhabi-controlled City, meanwhile, paid a Premier League record £100m to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa.
Debt-ridden Barca, by contrast, were forced to slash their wage bill this summer due to La Liga’s far stricter financial regulations. They have been allocated a maximum budget of €98m (£83m) for this season, a huge drop from €347m (£295m) last campaign.
“For us the Super League was about creating a more attractive competition oriented around the issue of FFP. We have to make a deep reflection on what happened this summer,” Ferran Reverter told a news conference on Wednesday.
“UEFA is opening the door for clubs to inject money and the spending ratios are going wild. Along with La Liga, we believe in a more sustainable model. If UEFA keeps going down this path it will favour the state clubs while damaging Barca’s brand.”
UEFA did not immediately respond to Reverter’s comments.
President Aleksander Ceferin told the European Club Association last month UEFA was looking at a new model of financial control, without giving details.
“It is time to question the old ways and the traditional measures,” he said. “It is now time to seriously work together to put in place a true direct cost control system.”
Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus are the only remaining supporters of the Super League, which was announced in April but quickly unravelled following the withdrawal of the six English clubs and then Atletico Madrid, AC Milan and Inter Milan.