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Barcelona seeking new finance streams for €350m hole after Super League collapse

Barcelona are seeking new means of financing the club after the collapse of the European Super League left them with a €350 million hole to fill, sources have told ESPN.

New Barca president Joan Laporta took charge in March with the club’s gross debt standing at almost €1.2 billion.

He was banking on the Super League money to be able to renew Lionel Messi’s contract, pay backdated wages and, if possible, make a move for Erling Haaland or Neymar, sources have told ESPN.

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The Catalan club were one of the 12 founding members of the doomed Super League and, despite reaffirming their commitment to the project last Thursday, have been forced to accept that the competition is unlikely to launch any time soon.

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That means Barca will no longer receive the initial €350m they anticipated they would receive from JP Morgan. The American had committed to putting up a €3.5bn grant to kickstart the project and help clubs recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Therefore, with an internal audit into the club’s dire financial situation still ongoing, Barca have accelerated the search for outside investment.

Sources close to the club told ESPN that there are several fronts open. Talks are ongoing with investment funds from the United States, Asia and Europe regarding a loan with a favourable repayment plan.

Meanwhile, the club have also considered selling the naming rights to Camp Nou, an idea that had been floated by the previous board and was expected to come into force once the renovation work — delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic — on the stadium had been carried out.

There is also an option to sell a stake in Barca Corporate, a subsidiary business that houses the Barca Academy project, Barca Innovation Hub, Barca Licensing and Merchandising (BLM) and Barca Studios.

Barca are also working on player sales and reducing the wage bill and have already taken some of the heat off by renegotiating a part of their short-term debt.

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Of the club’s €1.173bn gross debt, €265m was owed to banks before June 30, per the club’s latest accounts.

A club source confirmed to ESPN a more staggered repayment plan has been agreed upon with some of the noteholders of that debt.

Barca also owe €164m in salaries to “sports personnel” before the end of the season and €126m in instalments on past signings by June 30.

Sources told ESPN that once Laporta has refinanced the debt and, if possible, brought in more investment, he will use the money to help improve the squad.

Messi is out of contract at the end of the season and is yet to decide on his future. Laporta, who met with the forward’s father, Jorge, last week, plans to offer Messi a two-year deal with an option for a third, sources told ESPN, and has said in public he is “convinced” the six-time World Player of the Year will stay.

To persuade Messi to continue at Camp Nou, Laporta will have to come up with a lucrative financial package but also make an attractive sporting offer.

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Laporta is exploring deals for Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland and Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar. Haaland’s representatives met with Laporta last month, but sources have told ESPN the costs involved in the deal make it a difficult one to pull off.

Meanwhile, sources told ESPN that until Neymar extends his contract with PSG, which expires in 2022, Barca continue to monitor the situation with a view to bringing him back after he left for France in 2017.

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