• Thursday, June 13, 2024
businessday logo


Barcelona at risk of 50-year financial mess if Messi stays- Laporta


Barcelona president, Joan Laporta, made a stunning revelation on Friday saying that Lionel Messi’s new deal would put the Catalan club a risk for 50 years.

Messi, 34, leaves Barcelona as the club could not afford to give him a new contract under LaLiga’s salary limit.

A private equity firm CVC’s €2.7billion investment in LaLiga could have made signing Messi possible but would have meant Barcelona giving up some TV rights.

“I can’t make a decision that will affect the club for 50 years,” Laporta said.

“The club is over 100 years old and it’s above everyone and everything, even above the best player of the world. We will always thank him for everything he’s done for us.

Read Also: Here are potential clubs for Messi after Barcelona exit

“In order to have fair play, we need to do this or make an effort which would put the club at risk. We couldn’t keep going with this and we needed to make a decision, which we have.”

Messi, Barcelona’s all-time goalscorer, had agreed to a new five-year contract on reduced wages – but the club still had to slash their wage bill to afford him, and were unable to do so.

“Leo wanted to stay, so he’s not happy,” Laporta said. “We all wanted him to stay. For him, he has to confront reality. It’s a reality that can’t be changed and he knows I wish him the best wherever he goes.”

Laporta added that he did not want to give “false hope” on “hypothetical” ideas that would see keeping Messi possible. “This negotiation has ended,” he said.

Read Also: Lionel Messi finally leaves Barcelona

Paris St-Germain have begun to explore the feasibility of signing Messi.

Messi is Barcelona’s record scorer with 672 goals and has won 10 LaLiga titles, four Champions Leagues and the Copa del Rey seven times, as well as claiming the Ballon d’Or on a record six occasions.

“Leo’s legacy is excellent. He’s made history,” Laporta said. “He’s the player with the most success in history of the club.

“He’s been the reference of an era which has been splendid, the best era of Barcelona’s history until today.

“A new era starts now. There will be a before and after Leo. We need to be eternally thankful to him.”

Laporta revealed that the aim had been for Messi to stay for two more years – even though he had agreed a five-year deal.

“Obviously it’s sad the situation is what it is – that with Covid-19, we can’t pay homage to him in a way we would have wanted to do in two years with fans in the stands.

“We were all thinking two years and then if he wanted more we could negotiate. We wanted the post-Messi era to start in two years. Taking into account the circumstances, we’ve had to bring it forward.”

Private equity firm CVC invested €2.7billion into LaLiga in exchange for 10% revenue and a 10% stake in most of its business, but Barcelona felt it would affect future TV deals.

“The only way to have that salary margin now was to accept the operation we don’t think is interesting for Barcelona,” Laporta said.

“It’s an operation that puts at risk the club for the next 50 years. We can’t do that.”

Laporta, who became president in March after Josep Maria Bartomeu stepped down in October – says a recent audit shows the club’s financial situation is worse than they expected – and that he initially thought LaLiga would allow their new contract with Messi.

“We haven’t had six months [to sort this out],” he said. “We’ve had less because the audit numbers have just come out.

“The initial figures, we’ve realised the situation is even worse than expected. We’ve gone from bad to worse.”

Laporta admitted he thought LaLiga would “be more flexible with fair play” and accept their contract proposals with Messi.

“The first offer was two years of salary to be paid in five,” Laporta said. “When we thought that would be allowed in FFP, the criteria of cash came into play.

“It’s not allowed here, while it is in other countries. LaLiga had its pressures because other clubs want the regulations and rules to be abided by.

“Then we agreed a five-year contract. We thought that would be allowed by FFP regulations, and I had insinuated in a convincing way this would be allowed, but after a technical analysis by the LaLiga commission, we found out it wouldn’t be valid within those regulations.”

Messi’s exit has taken Barcelona’s wage bill is down from 110% of their income to 95%.

“We’re at the limit even without Leo,” he said. “We need to recalculate but we’re over the salary limit.”

Laporta hopes Barcelona will be able to register new signings such as Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, Emerson and Eric Garcia now Messi has gone.

“These are players coming to Barcelona accepting certain salary conditions and we have to thank them for that,” he said.

“The arrival of these players isn’t comparable to what it would have meant to formalise the agreements with Messi in terms of FFP.”