Spanish giants Barcelona are working to sort out their finances and believe they can restore the club’s equity balance — total assets minus total liabilities — by the 2024-25 season, financial vice president Eduard Romeu said on Thursday.
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Barca’s board of directors will on Sunday present the club’s assembly of committee members with the 2021-22 financial year results showing €98 million in post-tax profits after a €97m loss the previous year due to the pandemic.
Romeu said Barca had closed 2021-22 with operating income of €1.017bn and operating expenses of €856m.
As for the budget, the objective for the 2022-23 season is turnover of €1.452b and a profit after tax of €275m.
“When we were elected we asked for five years to redirect the equity imbalance, but with the financial levers that we made, this year we will already be close to the objective,” Romeu said in a presentation of the financial year to the media.
Romeu said the club’s debts that totaled €1.35bn — €673m of which was owed to banks — were reduced to €1bn, according to Barca’s estimates.
The so-called levers that Romeu referred to are steps the current board made earlier this year to turn the club’s assets into cash as they look to improve the financial situation.
Barca have agreed to sell a 25% stake in their LaLiga TV rights for the next 25 years to U.S. private equity group Sixth Street for €607.5m and approved the sale of a minority share of their audio-visual division to Socios.com and Orpheus Media for €200m.
However, the club’s biggest problem is still the first-team wage bill which is €518m, 51% of the budget.
“€500m would be the ideal number now to be competitive, but we will have to use debt to pay those large contracts,” said Romeu. “I think we won’t be able to fix it until the 2024-25 season.”
However, increasing talk of the possible return of club great Lionel Messi, who will be a free agent at the end of the season when his current Paris Saint-Germain contract expires, means the Argentine would still be on their radar.
“Messi is an asset to Barca and the club’s doors are open to him obviously. It is well known that we can perform miracles here,” Romeu added.
Club president Joan Laporta, who presided over one of Barca’s most successful periods from 2003 to 2010, was elected last year for a second stint after the previous board resigned due to the club’s worsening finances and other controversies.
He inherited a club deep in financial crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and, restricted by LaLiga’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, Barca were unable to re-sign Messi who left as a free agent for PSG.
Since then, Laporta has tried to improve the club’s financial situation with the economic levers and by bringing in new sponsors as they plan to update their stadium.
In March, the club signed a shirt and stadium sponsorship deal with audio streaming platform Spotify (SPOT.N) in an agreement worth €280m.
Barca in December approved financial plans to renovate the fanmous Camp Nou, including raising an additional €1.5bn in debt.