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Football Reporting


Barcelona boosted in Lionel Messi contract saga as LaLiga announces €2.7bn deal

Barcelona’s bid to register Lionel Messi’s new contract with LaLiga has been handed a boost after the league announced a cash injection of €2.7 billion ($3.2B) on Wednesday.

LaLiga has agreed in principle to sell 10 percent of a newly formed company housing most of its business to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners. The sale still requires approval from the league’s executive committee and clubs.

– La Liga on ESPN+: Stream LIVE games and replays (U.S. only)

Around 90% of the money will go directly to Spanish clubs, including women’s football, semi-professional and non-professional football. It is a loan repayable over a significant number of years, but a source said the clubs are “delighted” as it helps them out of a financial black hole caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Another source suggested Barca and Real Madrid will receive over €250m each based on the protocol for access to the funds.

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“It will be distributed according to the contributions that the clubs have had since the centralisation of audiovisual rights in 2015, a key moment in the promotion of LaLiga,” a league source said. “It does not take into account a specific moment but the average situation of the clubs in the last seven years.”

However, the league source added that the purpose of the cash injection is to build for the future, with the league demanding the clubs commit to a plan focusing on developing their physical infrastructure and their brands.

The clubs must spend at least 70% of the money on investments related to long-term growth, 15% on refinancing their debt and 15% can be used to increase their league-imposed spending limits.

Barca’s spending limit has been in free-fall since the pandemic hit, falling from over €600m in 2019-20 to an estimated €200m for the upcoming campaign. However, the league source confirmed Wednesday’s deal will see the limits “slightly updated.”

An agreement over a new contract with Messi, who’s been a free agent since his last deal expired on June 30, is in place, as revealed by ESPN in July, but the announcement has been held up as Barca cannot yet register the deal while complying with LaLiga’s financial rules.

They also need to reduce their wage bill to be able to register new signings Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal for the new season.

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A source at Barcelona said they hope to finalise Messi’s new terms before Sunday’s Joan Gamper Trophy, when they play Juventus, and that Thursday “could be a key day.”

The money will also be welcomed by Real Madrid and the rest of the top-flight clubs in Spain as they fight against the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and playing matches behind closed doors.

LaLiga are calling the project ‘Boost LaLiga,’ with a league source explaining they hope it will help the competition bridge the gap on the English Premier League over the next decade.

The operation with CVS will see the creation of a new company to which LaLiga will contribute all of its businesses, subsidiaries and joint ventures and in which CVC will have a minority stake of approximately 10%.

Additionally, CVC provides funds to LaLiga through a participating account, a long-term agreement that aligns the interests of LaLiga, the clubs and CVC. In this new company, LaLiga will keep all of its sports responsibilities as well as the organisation and management of audiovisual rights sales.

“The transaction values LaLiga at €24.25bn, a price tag that acknowledges LaLiga’s leadership as one of the most prominent sports competitions in the world,” a statement from the league said.

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Italy’s Serie A clubs balked at a 10% media rights deal with earlier this year that would have been worth $2bn for that league.

Rodrigo Faez contributed to this report.

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