Goalgist 22

Barcelona members voted in favour of the club selling off part of its retail arm Barcelona Licensing and Merchandising (BLM), and part of its future TV rights revenue, so they can sign players this summer.

The sale of 49.9 percent of BLM was voted through by 568 in favour, 65 against, and 13 abstentions.

The sale of up to 25 percent of the TV rights for 25 years was given the green light by 494 voting members in favour, with 62 against and again 13 abstentions.

President Joan Laporta said the deals could raise between £512m and 598m.

He told members before the vote:

Barça is a Formula 1 car with no fuel and a seized-up engine. We need to do this because we have been making losses for years, we have inherited a very difficult situation.

If the deals bring in £512m it will swing the club’s salary cap from £123m in the minus (as it currently stands) to something closer to £384m in the positive.

That would still be above their current wage bill set at £478m. So they would remain stuck with the 4:1 rule (obliging them to spend only a quarter of revenue they bring in) unless they can reduce salaries.

They are confident that they can do that and if they manage to, or bring in £598m with the two financial levers, it will mean they could operate as other clubs.

Laporta blamed the previous board for the situation the club finds itself in but said:

I do not want to keep looking back. It is important to make a profit because if we continue to make losses our competitors see us as weak. And not only them but people with power in regulatory bodies systematically and obsessively put obstacles in our way.

That dig seemed to be aimed at La Liga whose financial fair play rules mean that because Barcelona’s spending on playing staff is more than their budgetary surplus they are restricted by Article 100: they must make four euros to spend one.

Barcelona have 4,478 senior members entitled to vote on such matters and the meeting was delayed at first because of insufficient numbers attending the meeting. But at 18.55, local time, there were 636 accredited members present or online and the vote could take place.

Having persuaded the club’s members Barcelona now have to make the deals happen before the end of the month and hope that coupled with a reduction in the wage bill they will be in the clear to operate normally in the transfer market.

Before the vote members were given the opportunity to speak or ask questions. Former agent Jose Maria Minguella who was involved in the originally signing of Lionel Messi bemoaned the sporting direction that had led the club to this point.

He said:

I warned about the horrendous sporting management we have suffered when the club threw money at Philippe Coutinho, Oumane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann. I want to warn now that the signings are key.

Not everyone can sign players. From signing well or badly you either succeed or you go bankrupt. You don’t need to be clever to sign [Robert] Lewandowski now but you do to sign him when he is only 22.

Lewandowski will be the target now although with Bayern Munich holding out for £34m in one straight payment and Barcelona’s wage bill still needing to be cut there is work still to be done.


By Amara

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