Barca boss fears EPL influence after TV windfall

LONDON • Barcelona are concerned about the financial clout of the English Premier League when the new television deal kicks in for top-flight clubs next season, said president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

The 20 Premier League teams will share most of the £5.1 billion (S$10.1 billion) for live domestic TV coverage in a three-year deal starting next term, and Bartomeu said they will be Barca's main rivals in the battle for players.

"Premier League teams will have an incredible financial situation... and we are worried," he was quoted as telling the BBC on Monday.

Spanish La Liga leaders Barcelona visited Arsenal in a Champions League last 16 first-leg tie yesterday.

"The Premier League is the best football competition. It has the most interest for fans and most revenues," said Bartomeu.

WORRIED ABOUT AN EXODUS

We have different budgets in Spain and it would be difficult for (a team) like Leicester to be top of the league.

JOSEP MARIA BARTOMEU, Barcelona president, on the difference between the Spanish La Liga and the English Premier League in terms of dividing TV money.

"They are doing things good and keeping teams in the competition where everyone being equal is of interest for everybody.

"We have different budgets in Spain and it would be difficult for (a team) like Leicester to be top of the league," Bartomeu added, referring to a set-up where Barca and Real Madrid take nearly half of the TV cash between them.

He is worried that more of Spain's best talent could be lured to England by the new riches on offer but said Barca's players were attracted by more than just money.

"Our rivals are the Premier League, they are the big adversaries. We have to do our best to increase our revenues and our financial situation to make the talent of our teams stay with us," he said. "That is why I am so worried and we are working on this. We want to keep the talent at home.

"Most get better economic offers but our players are not in Barcelona for the money, they are there because of the football and the fans' commitment," said Bartomeu.

Barca trail Real in the football rich list but Bartomeu said his goal was to reach €1 billion (S$1.54 billion) in annual revenue to "develop our club and make it bigger".

Real topped Deloitte's Football Money League of the highest earning clubs for 2015 on €577 million, ahead of Barca (€560 million) and Manchester United (€520 million) in third.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2016, with the headline 'Barca boss fears EPL influence after TV windfall'. Print Edition | Subscribe