Day 1 of the new Joan Laporta era. He can now take office and start getting his hands dirty. As he has repeated many times, the key is to “roll up our sleeves and work, work and work”. These were labelled as the most important elections in Barça’s history, so the challenges ahead are huge. Especially on the economic side.
The club has a debt of €1,173 million, 730m of which are to be paid in the short-term — within the next year. However, as Jaume Giro (who was to be Laporta’s economic vice-president but left on Saturday) said, the net debt in reality is of €488m: this means the total debt when the money and earnings that are owed to the club are paid.
From these 730m, 266m have to be paid to banks, while the remaining money corresponds to other clubs, players and staffs, suppliers or Treasury. It will be crucial to restructure the debt, mostly negotiating with banks to change the payment terms and times. Giro explained: “You can refinance the debt with banks, but how do you tell Liverpool, to whom you owe 40m for Coutinho, that you are not going to pay them when you had to?”. Barça can’t and shouldn’t start arrearages with other clubs as our reputation would lower.
Another issue is Barcelona’s wage bill, which is of 502m, more than anyone’s, and the players’ salaries occupy 75% of the budget. These are all great issues, but Laporta and his team will surely manage. The Barça brand is world renowned, more so with Lionel Messi, and there are many assets that can be sold, some more unpopular than others — Barça Corporate, Camp Nou naming rights…A lot of work to do.