Barcelona president Joan Laporta has opened up on the club’s “very worrying” financial situation, revealing the La Liga giants are €1.35bn (£1.15bn) in debt.
Laporta blamed his predecessor Josep Bartomeu for a “terrible inheritance” which he says sees club salaries representing 103 per cent of income at the Nou Camp.
He blamed the club’s “dramatic” situation on Lionel Messi’s departure and insisted Bartomeu and his board of directors must be held accountable.
Laporta, in his second spell as club president after winning the 2021 elections earlier this year, said at a live press conference: “Our salaries represent 103 per cent of the club’s total income. That’s 20-25 per cent more than our competitors.
“The first thing we had to do when we arrived was to ask for a loan of €80m because otherwise, we could not pay the salaries. The previous regime was full of lies.”
Laporta continued: “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. We also found out that the club had already received 50 per cent of the TV rights fees in advance.
“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 €451m – it is a terrible inheritance. What has been happening is very worrying.
“Bartomeu’s (open) letter is an effort to justify management that is unjustifiable. It is an exercise in desperation. They are responsible for everything until March 7. They will not escape their doing.”
Laporta thanks Pique for taking pay cut
Barcelona signed Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia on free transfers this summer.
However, despite the departure of Messi, the club were only able to register the pair at late notice ahead of their opening-day victory against Real Sociedad on Sunday after captain Gerard Pique agreed to take a reduction in his salary.
Laporta hopes other senior players such as Jordi Alba will soon follow suit.
“I thank Pique for his willingness to help the club. His reduction has helped us to register players. 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,” said Laporta.
Despite such a wealth of problems, Laporta believes Barcelona can repair its situation and has revealed that it has taken out a loan of “€550m with an interest rate of 1.1 per cent to restructure the club”.
He thinks it will take a couple of years for the club to be back on a more stable financial footing.
“The situation is dramatic, but we have good news,” said Laporta. “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.
“We are not scared at all. We are highly motivated and positive and morale is high. It’s a big challenge but we are capable of overcoming it.
“I’d like to call on all Barca fans and the entire club to be united. With football and unity, I’m convinced this era will be full of success.”