Football: Barcelona's new wage bill now capped at less than Watford's

PHOTO: AFP

MADRID (BLOOMBERG) - Barcelona football club has already been forced to offload Lionel Messi in order to keep its balance sheet down. Now it's been told to keep those bills at a lower level than Premier League newcomers Watford.

Spanish league LaLiga has set new limits on squad spending, capping Barcelona's wage bill at €97.94 million (S$150 million), LaLiga managing director Jose Guerra said in a news conference on Wednesday (Sept 29).

The closest comparison in the English Premier League - the world's most lucrative soccer league - is Watford, a mid-level team that spent less than €111.2 million, according to company filings.

Watford has never won a major trophy in English soccer, while Barcelona has won five Champions League titles.

LaLiga calculates the salary cap based on a club's wages and revenue. Barcelona is expected to post a loss of €487 million for the season that just ended.

Real Madrid, Barcelona's historic rival, will be allowed to spend an amount more than seven times higher, with the limit set at €739.2 million.

Barcelona also lags behind the rest of Spain's top clubs, including Atletico Madrid, whose cap is €171.6 million, and Sevilla with €200.4 million.

Selling Messi has not been enough to tackle Barcelona's debt pile, which in August amounted to €1.35 billion, according to the club's president Joan Laporta.