Football: Barcelona will be healthy in a few years with sponsorship and investment, president says

FC Barcelona's President Joan Laporta at Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona, on Aug 16, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MADRID (REUTERS) -Barcelona can reverse its poor financial situation within a year and a half, president Joan Laporta told a news conference on Monday (Aug 16), after explaining the Spanish La Liga club ended last year €451 million (S$720 million) in the red.

"And I reckon that in a couple of years the club will be healthy," he told reporters, adding that the team had many potential sponsorship deals open to it.

With their finances in dire straits after years of wage inflation and expensive transfers, the club could not afford to renew its contract with star striker Lionel Messi, leading to his shock departure to Paris St-Germain last week.

Some 17 investors are interested in Barcelona's studios business, which groups together the club's audiovisual businesses and serves as a hub for events, he told reporters.

"With Barca Studios there's important potential for growth," he said, without giving a potential valuation.

Barca's previous management had contracted investment bank Goldman Sachs to seek potential investors for the club's commercial arm but none of the proposals were satisfactory, Laporta said.

The club's debts total €1.35 billion, €673 million of which are owed to banks, he said.

Last week Reuters reported that Goldman had agreed to lend €1 billion to private equity firm CVC's planned multi-billion euro investment in Spain's top football league, LaLiga, a deal which Barcelona opted out of.

Along with rivals Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao, Barca voted against the proposal at a general assembly last Thursday.

Laporta had previously slammed the deal as "mortgaging the club's television rights for the next 50 years", even though the cash injection could have allowed Messi to stay at the Camp Nou.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.