He Barcelona Soccer Club owes banks and clubs 820 million euros, of which it will only deduct 332 for pending collections, for which it presents a net debt in the 2019-20 season of 488 million. An alarming figure, since it came from 217 last season, which would place it first in the ranking of debtor clubs in Europe, according to the ‘Financial Year Report’ that the UEFA published annually and that this last year has not seen the light yet due to the appearance of covid-19. Until last year, the Manchester United it was the team with the most debt, with 459 million euros, followed by Inter (438), Atlético (391) and Juventus (291). He Real Madrid it did not appear in the ranking of defaulters.
Barcelona has entered 192 million euros less than what it had budgeted. Out of an expected income of 1,047 million it reached only 855, even if the club warns that, without the pandemic, the figure would rise to 1,059. Barça closes the 2019-2020 season with losses of 97 million euros and the red numbers will continue in 2020-2021, as expected in the accounts.
Problems with the wage bill
The revenue forecast for next season, which was initially $ 1.12 billion, has been drastically lowered to $ 791. The ravages of the pandemic, with the lack of public in the stands, will cause 330 million to stop entering. And that makes it a major issue for Bartomeu and its directive the subject of the wage bill. The League will not register clubs whose salary mass exceeds 70% of its budget. At the end of this year, the Barça wage bill reached 636 million, a reassuring 61%. But with revenue declining to $ 791 million, the wage bill soars around 80%. Barcelona has managed to reduce it this summer by 42 million with the departure of players such as Luis Suárez (23.4 million euros gross per year), Rakitic (13.3) or Vidal (9). But with the unexpected decrease in income you need to reduce the wage bill much more.
He has two alternatives: negotiate a salary reduction for the squad, as the club is proposing, or let out players with a high salary weight
Bartomeu’s alternatives are two: generate more revenue by selling players or getting rid of players with high contracts. If you bet on the former, you would have to sell the only footballer who would generate a real capital gain from his transfer, Ansu Fati, for which they estimate that they will get 150 million. The sale of Griezmann or Dembelé, for example, would not be profitable as it cost the club 120 and 140 million euros respectively, unrealistic figures for a market in crisis like the current one. Barça calculates that capital gains from transfers should reach 73 million this season. But Umtiti and Dembelé have not left and now we will have to work on the January market.
The other option is to lighten the salary mass, and in that aspect it also has two alternatives: negotiate a reduction in the staff’s salary, as the club is proposing, or let out players with a lot of salary weight. The first bet is dangerous because it could end with players denouncing their contracts or going free even in January. There is a real risk that footballers will claim their freedom letter, or at least challenge the measure proposed by the club, since they are protected by law with article 41 of the Workers’ Statute. And it would not be the first time that a professional athlete uses the Workers’ Statute to demand the termination of their contract. It remains to be seen how the club acts, which could negotiate the salary reduction with each player individually.
The second would go through letting Messi out, whose salary weight is around 70 million gross per year. A measure that has not been valued, as has been seen when the club refused to let the Argentine leave after announcing his frustrated departure. Messi stays and you have to bear his salary weight, so the solution is to lower the salary of his teammates.
The ballast of the Espai Barça
During Bartomeu’s tenure, Barcelona has bagged more than 500 million euros in sales (222 with the payment of the Neymar clause to PSG), but the problem is the very high cost of the operations faced with transfers such as Dembelé (140) or Coutinho (160). Spending on salaries and transfer repayments has triggered the debt, and to this has been added another unexpected burden: the Barça space. The financing of the technological project already reaches 815 million euros of expenditure. A problem that punishes even more the battered culé economy.
Barcelona is the tip of the iceberg, for being the club with the highest salary mass. But the rest of the top clubs in Europe are experiencing similar situations. Dortmund has closed this season with losses of 44 million and already announces 75 for next. Its president, Hans-Joachim Watzke, offered a diagnosis shared by all his colleagues: “We will only benefit again if there are no restrictions on attendance at stadiums. We must be patient. Football is extremely difficult to imagine without fans and it is time to endure “. Roma, who lost 204 million this past year, need to enter 140 million and announced a capital increase in June to try to save the club financially.
Real Madrid, however, saved the season because it had planned a profit of 40 million and that cushion saved it from the impact of the pandemic. The whites, who have turned all their expectations into the remodeling of a new Bernabéu that will boost the club’s ordinary income, are considering an austere budget for next season, which would be around 650 million. Something that would not cause a problem with the weight of your salary bill, since capital gains from transfers such as Achraf, Reguilón and Óscar Rodríguez give margin. And in addition, Florentino already closed a salary cut with the staff last year, given the imminent crisis of the pandemic, which allows him to be relieved.