Barcelona are rich! Or are they? This is a question that has dominated and divided the footballing world in 2022. When Joan Laporta took over in 2021, the financial situation was a mess. Barcelona had debts of more than €1 billion.
They had to let go of club legend Lionel Messi. However, just a year on from that, the Blaugrana have signed Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski. The pair have cost in excess of €100 million.
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Moreover, they had also bought Ferran Torres for more than €50 million. Incredibly, that is still not all. Since January 2022, Barcelona have signed Eric Garcia, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Franck Kessie, and Andreas Christensen on free transfers.
The latter pair are yet to be officially registered, alongside Raphinha and Lewandowski. All of it will be done once the second economic lever is activated.
Indeed, these “economic levers” have dominated conversations inside the club, alongside their sponsorship deals. So, what are these new, creative ways that Barcelona are doing in order to become competitive again?
What are the economic levers?
A phrase that Laporta has continuously used for much of his presidency. The economic levers, in very simple terms, are using the club’s assets to get money. This was announced in a meeting with the club’s members earlier in 2022.
There are seven levers, of which three are known so far. The first involved selling 49.9% of Barca Licensing and Merchandising (BLM) company. The negotiations are underway, with the club expected to receive around around €300 million.
Barcelona are considering pulling the third lever (BLM + Barca Studios) to be able to register the new signings.
The second lever will be effective within next few days, allowing Barca to have the money for signing Raphinha and Lewandowski.
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) July 18, 2022
The second lever revolves around 25% of the club’s La Liga TV rights. Barcelona have already sold 15% for €207 million to Sixth Street Capital for 25 years. Additionally, they could sell another 10% but it remains to be seen whether that extreme option is taken.
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Finally, the third lever also centres around BLM and Barcelona Studios, which could rake in another €200 million approximately. Therefore, it is clear that the levers are enmeshed together, with one depending upon the other. However, there have been more help from more corners.
Sponsorships deals and loans
One of the major sponsorship deals for Barcelona in recent times has been their partnership with Spotify. The streaming giant is now the club’s principal sponsor, alongside taking over naming rights of Camp Nou.
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The deal is worth €240-280 million over four years. Moreover, the stadium can also be booked for music concerts, special programmes, and even weddings.
All of it will only generate more revenue for the club. Another key way from which Barcelona have raised money is through loans.
Spotify keeps the money flowing for Barcelona#Barcelona #Spotify pic.twitter.com/Ze9TRGn1dT
— FootTheBall FC (@FootTheBallFC) July 15, 2022
Laporta refinanced the club’s massive debt through €500 million loan from Goldman Sachs, that includes a grace period of five years.
Furthermore, Goldman Sachs have also taken on the planned renovations to Spotify Camp Nou over a 35-year plan. Needless to say, Barcelona are taking money from a variety of places. But will the plans eventually work?
Player sales and reduced wages
The ongoing sage surrounding Frenkie de Jong is getting to a desperate stage. The player does not to join Manchester United. He does not want to leave Barcelona unless €17 million around deferred wages are paid.
Barcelona are unwilling to pay and have purported told him to find a new club. Manchester United are heavily interested, but there is a lot of convoluted parts. This highlights Barcelona’s problems in a nutshell.
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The players they want to sell have few or no takers. Philippe Coutinho joined Aston Villa, while Clement Lenglet and Antoine Griezmann have been sent out on loan. However, the likes of Samuel Umtiti, Neto, Oscar Minguez, Riqui Puig and others are still stuck.
🚨 Frenkie de Jong wants to join Manchester United but is holding out for Barcelona to pay his deferred wages before joining Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford.
It is a matter of principle to him.
(Source: @MiguelDelaney) pic.twitter.com/ifMq9L3jY8
— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) July 14, 2022
Moreover, there have also been rumours of Memphis Depay exiting. No doubt players sales will massively benefit the club. Not only in terms of fees, but the lessening of the wage budget.
Senior players like Gerard Pique, Marc Andre Ter-Stegen, Jordi Alba, and Sergio have already taken paycuts. Ousmane Dembele has extended his deal with a new contract and reduced wages. Will it work?
What does the future hold?
€481 million. That was the losses that Barcelona ended for the previous financial year. La Liga’s strict financial fairplay (FFP) rules forbid clubs from going all out on players. Barcelona can only spend 1/3rd of their total incomes on purchase of players.
The club is trying to get that to 1:1 through these financing methods, that are beneficial in the short-term. However, there are a lot of uncertainties when it comes to the long game. Barcelona are betting on winning silverware right now, and being amongst Europe’s elite.
There is no guarantee that either will work out. Lewandowski, Pique, Busquets, Alba, and Ter-Stegen are the veterans who do have many peak years left. Barcelona are partially committing to the rebuild through the likes of Pedri, Gavi, Pablo Torre, and others.
Laporta has to make sure that his plans are thoroughly covering all the potential outcomes. Europe, as a whole, is strengthening manifold and Barcelona are struggling to keep up.
Feature image credits: Culemania