After all, it’s the reason the greatest player of all time left the club for Paris. The issue continued to rear its head this summer, with deferred wages proving a significant stumbling block as the club looked to sort out Frenkie de Jong’s future.
Uncertainty over the club’s financial future is a key reason why decision makers at the club backed the European Super League, given the guaranteed revenue boost the project would provide. The breakaway competition didn’t get off the ground, but that hasn’t stopped the club spending money.
The club have splashed the cash on the duo of Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski, while signing Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessié as free agents — both of whom will receive significant bonuses in addition to a generous basic wage.
This comes on top of their spending in the previous year, with Memphis and Sergio Agüero both arriving last summer, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ferran Torres also joined in the winter transfer window. In addition, the contracts of Ousmane Dembélé and Sergi Roberto have been renewed, and it’s likely that the spending hasn’t finished just yet.
All this business will no doubt make the club very popular on the Betdaq bet exchange, but it’s hardly the actions of a club that’s taking a prudent approach to their finances. So, where is the money coming from?
In June, club president Joan Laporta was given permission by the members of the club to put in place exceptional measures. Since then, the club have raised emergency funding. A deal was cut with Sixth Street, a US investment fund, for 10% of the club’s domestic broadcasting revenue over the next 25 years. In return, Sixth Street paid approximately £200m. The fund purchased an additional 15% of the rights, bringing the total raised by the club to around £500m.
Barcelona are also reported to be looking at monetising the merchandising arm of the business. In total, they could raise in excess of £600m. That’s not enough to pay off the club’s debts, which Laporta stated were in excess of £1 billion last year.
However, it’s more than enough to give them working capital. With that money, however, they’ve taken a high-risk approach. The traditional approach in football is to cut the wage bill and opt for signing younger players, often taking a step back in ambition while doing so. With Barcelona’s excellent youth academy — Pedri and Gavi being two of the best examples of La Masia providing players who can make the step up into the the first team — it would make even more sense for the club to go down that route.
Laporta has opted for a different path however. Never one to take a step backwards, he’s investing for the present, hoping to attract players who can make an immediate impact, and return Barça to the summit of Spanish and European football.
It’s certainly a bold call. Laporta’s thinking is that a star-studded squad will be able to take the club back to where it belongs far more quickly and, in doing so, the money the club receives from its various income streams will grow to the point where the club can continue to pay off its debts while financing the football side of the club.
It’s a calculated gamble from Laporta, but he’s giving Xavi the firepower he needs to blast the team back to the top. With such financial backing comes expectations and as attention now returns to on-pitch matters, the Catalan coach has no choice but to deliver. The future of the club could depend on it.