Barcelona sold just over €660m worth of assets last summer in order to construct a competitive team this season, and yet still find themselves in the Europa League after Christmas.
The idea behind doing so was to create a virtuous circle of income, as President Joan Laporta terms it, based on success on the pitch which continues to propagate success off it.
Yet with the club forced to look for ways to make up for the shortfall in the quarter-final run in the Champions League that they had budgeted for, some fear that the situation is far worse. As the club’s debts grow in excess of €1.3b and assets are sold, there is a growing concern that Barcelona will eventually be forced to sell at least a percentage of the club in order to fund themselves. Ultimately, it would mean the club’s members were no longer the full owners of the entity.
Speaking in an interview with Sport, Laporta explained the strategy and the risks involved from the summer.
“With the levers we have saved Barça from ruin, we are recovering economically and we have been able to construct a competitive team. We no longer have the fears of the beginning of the mandate, when we received such a disastrous legacy. At that time we ruled out the option of liquidating the club, of course, or asking the members for money, because they are not responsible for the disastrous management.”
What we decided was to value some assets that the club had and sell them at a very good price, given the circumstances in which we found ourselves. I will never get tired of thanking the members who gave us the authorization to activate these levers that have saved the club. In addition, these assets represent only 5 percent of the club’s annual income, so the income statements for the coming years are not significantly affected. And I want to remind you that this part of the assets that we have sold can be recovered after 25 years.”
Laporta was defiant that Barcelona would not be sold into private hands.
“A private company, with me as president, will never happen. My reason for existing as president of Barça is that Barça is never a public limited company, that Barça is always owned by the members of the club.”
“I am a firm defender, as my career attests, that Barça always be the property of its members. Some partners that for almost 123 years of history have struggled to maintain this uniqueness despite many vicissitudes. This arrangement connects us to our city, our country, our community and we are not going to change it.”
“My presidency guarantees that Barça will always belong to its members. If someone wants to feed this fear, they are wrong. I am surprised that there are voices that continue to insist that Barça is heading towards a public limited company because it is totally false.”