Last month Barcelona economic vice-president Eduard Romeu asserted he needed 500m euros to “save the club”.
Now, six weeks later, the fallen Spanish giants are splashing cash in the transfer market. Big time.
Around £100m has been splurged on Leeds’ Raphinha and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, and similarly big-money moves for Sevilla’s Jules Kounde and Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva are being pursued.
Aggrieved Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann lamented that Barca are “the only club that doesn’t have money but can buy any player,” and his frustration summed up the mood of many observers who cannot understand how a club with debts of £1bn can spend so heavily.
But that perception is somewhat misguided, and the answer is simple. Here, we examine Barca’s extraordinary financial summer, and explain why it’s a massive all-or-nothing gamble for a club who find themselves in Las Vegas this weekend preparing to face Real Madrid on Saturday.
On 16 June, Barca’s members – who own the club – voted in favour of allowing president Joan Laporta to execute some exceptional measures, which have become known as economic ‘levers’, in order to raise a significant cash injection.
The first lever saw the club sell 10% of its domestic television rights over the next 25 years to US investment fund Sixth Street, in return for an immediate payment of around £200m – enough, in other words, to comfortably cover Barca’s summer signings so far.
And on Friday the club announced that they had sold a further 15% of those rights to Sixth Street, bringing in a reported extra £300m.
There are further plans to sell 49.9% of the club’s merchandising operation in the near future.
Together those levers should provide an up-front cash injection of more than £600m. So, yes, Barca now have money thanks to these new financial deals, even if they come with the long-term cost of reduced TV and merchandising revenue. And they also represent a massive gamble.