Once amongst the greatest club teams in world football, Barcelona’s egregious overspending has left them on the brink of bankruptcy in recent times.
But beleaguered club president Joan Laporta finally seems to have gotten his head around the fact that Barca need to save money – rather than just spending it at will, and a summer selling spree has finally taken the Catalan outfit back into the black.
So much so, La Liga has upgraded their spending cap to the tune of €800 million (£700 million) – now they are up to a positive €656 million, as opposed to the minus €144 million that forced Barcelona to make a stack of cost savings.
Some 17 players were moved on from the Nou Camp in the summer, with ten leaving on permanent deals and seven going out on loan – including Samuel Umtiti and Clement Lenglet, who were just two of the high earners that were preventing the club’s accountants from balancing the books.
The likes of Dani Alves, Martin Braithwaite and Miralem Pjanic were also shipped out on free transfers, saving Barcelona millions in salary payments and bonuses, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang left the club to join Chelsea – just months after he made the reverse London-to-Spain trip from Arsenal.
To help swell the coffers even further, Barca sold 25% of their share of La Liga TV rights to an American investment firm, Sixth Street, gave away a huge stake in their own media firm Barca Studios, and signed a mind-boggling €240 million sponsorship deal with streaming platform Spotify.
What Is the Spending Cap In La Liga?
La Liga has placed stricter spending limits on its clubs amid spiralling debt, and the cap system they have introduced reflects how much a club can spend on wages, bonuses and transfer payments per season. Previously, Barcelona have been on a 1:4 ratio, which means they can only spend 25% of what they have earned.
However, they are now back up to the full 1:1, which means they can spend every penny and cent they make from commercial deals, player sales and wages saved.
The efforts Barcelona have undergone to preserve their immediate future have seen their diagnosis upgraded from terminal to borderline, and opens the door for them to spend more money in the January transfer window in typically gratuitous fashion.
Even though they were in a dire position before and warned by La Liga that they could face a host of sanctions for financial fair play failures, Laporta went out and splashed more than €150 million on the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde and Raphinha, while also personally guaranteeing the contracts of free agent captures Andreas Christensen, Marcos Alonso and Franck Kessie.
The president of La Liga, Javier Tebas, refuted allegations that the powers-that-be had been too soft on Barca given the black hole in their accounting, although he did confirm that they may need to raise a further €200 million in player or asset sales in order to not have their spending cap significantly reduced next season.
He was coy too on the idea that the club is on borrowed time financially.
“Is there a risk of bankruptcy? In my opinion, I don’t think so, not at all,” he said.
“They have a high wage bill but a lot of equity, although they have had and [will] have to reduce the wage bill.”