BARCELONA – Barcelona is looking for financing alternatives to shape Joan Laporta’s new project after the Super League fiasco has left them without the 350 million agreed with JP Morgan, different sources informed ESPN. Laporta became president last March and continues to make accounts to face the gross debt of almost 1,200 million euros with which he has found in Barcelona.
JP Morgan had pledged to contribute 3.5 billion euros to get the Super League project underway and help clubs recover from the impact of the coronavirus.
Barça, according to different sources, was going to initially receive about 350 million euros and Laporta intended to use it to be able to renew Lionel Messi, pay back wages and, if possible, try to undertake the signings of Erling Haaland or Neymar. The Catalan club was one of the 12 founding members of the Super League but everything indicates that the competition will not start in the short term despite the fact that last Thursday Laporta reaffirmed his commitment to the project.
In this way, and taking into account that the club has been working for months on an internal audit that assesses the entity’s terrible financial situation, Laporta has accelerated the search for other external investors.
In this sense, sources close to the club explained to ESPN that they are negotiating with various investment funds from the United States, Asia and Europe to request a loan with favorable repayment conditions. In addition, the club is still working to find a sponsor to take over the Camp Nou brand name.
The idea was already contemplated by the previous board of directors but had to be postponed because the stadium remodeling works were delayed due to the pandemic. Similarly, the club is evaluating the sale of Barça Corporate, a parallel business to the purely sporting one that the club developed and which hosts the Barça Academy, the Barça Innovation Hub, the Barça Licensing and Merchandising (BLM) and the Barça Studios.
On the other hand, Barça is also negotiating the reduction of the wage bill and seeks to train to renegotiate part of its short-term debt. However, according to the latest club accounts, Barça must pay 265 million euros to the banks before June 30 (corresponding to the gross debt of 1,173 million euros).
In this sense, a source from the club has confirmed that an agreement has already been reached to be able to stagger payments with the different entities with which it has debts, something that the financial leaders of Barça have thanked
The club also owes 164 million euros in salaries to “sports personnel” (part of the staff and some technicians) and must face these debts before June 30 to avoid possible complaints. In addition, he also has to pay 126 million in various installments to other clubs derived from transfers made in the past. The sources explain to ESPN that Laporta now prioritizes the refinancing of that debt but later, if possible and gets the financing, he will seek to renew Messi and reinforce the current squad.
Laporta met with the forward’s father, Jorge, last Wednesday and, as ESPN announced, plans to offer Messi an initial two-year contract with the option of a third to compensate for the salary reduction that the footballer will have to accept.
Messi, who ends his contract on June 30, has not yet said anything about it but the president has repeated on more than one occasion that he is “convinced” that he will stay at the Barça club.
Laporta knows that Barça cannot compete economically today with other greats in Europe and works to offer Messi a seductive sporting proposal.
Messi, who will turn 34 in June, has the main objective of winning a Champions League that has resisted him since 2015. For this reason, different sources admit to ESPN that the president continues to work with the idea of trying the arrival of a star like Haaland, from Borussia Dortmund, or Neymar, from Paris Saint-Germain.
Haaland representatives met with Laporta last month. Various sources then explained to ESPN that the operation would be “very complicated” but Barça has not thrown in the towel.
Neymar’s case is different. The Brazilian has almost agreed his renewal with PSG until 2026 but he has not yet signed anything and until he does, Barça will try to convince him to return to the Camp Nou.