In just a few months Barcelona collapsed. The Spanish team lost its star player, Lionel Messi, and announced a debt of 1.3 billion euros, according to Joan Laporta, the club's president. Those situations put Barcelona in check.
With Messi's departure to PSG, Barcelona are estimated to have lost millions of euros in commercial revenue, ticket sales, shirt sales, and merchandising. For the 2021-2022 season, the Cules had an underperforming squad, a disaffected fan base, and millions in debt.
Club officials had to release players and loan others out to bring in new players. The arrival of Xavi Hernandez as first team coach helped a lot, the team improved its performance, and the fans recovered their enthusiasm. But the debt still exists, however, Barcelona's management solved part of the problem.
Barcelona and their economy
When La Liga calculates new salary limits for its clubs at the end of this month Barcelona will no longer find themselves in the negative. But despite that imminent piece of good news, there are still big challenges ahead.
Twice a year La Liga set salary limits for each club. There is a convoluted calculation that, subtracts projected spending on non-football costs from projected income. For example, if a club is going to make 100,000 euros but has to pay out 50,000 euros in debt repayments or pay non-soccer staff, then its salary limit is 50,000 euros. Losses from previous years also have to be factored in.
Barcelona's limit was set at €97,000,000, but the club itself said that the previous board's losses were not 228 million euros but 481 million euros. That was why La Liga set its salary cap at -144 million euros. After May, that figure will go back above zero. This means that Barcelona are already in a better position than last year and the club's finances have tightened up a bit.
The number will no longer be negative because La Liga has changed the rules so that any losses related to the pandemic can now spread be spread across five years. The club's sponsorship deal with Spotify for around €280m across five years also help. This does not mean that Barcelona are not still in debt.
Does this mean that Barcelona will be able to sign high-quality players in the next transfer window?
In February, Barcelona said the wage bill had been cut by €159,000,000 but that it was still 40 percent over and above rivals. The Cules wage bill was close to 900,000,000 euros at the end of last season. Messi, Philippe Coutinho, and other players leaving the club was a help but not the solution to the problem.
Barcelona still need to sign players who do not have a high salary to balance its expenses. The club´s officials are also thinking of offering progressive deals, that players earn more money in the last years of their contract and that their salary increases progressively.
When Barcelona will once again be one of the most powerful teams in the world?
Last year, then director general Ferran Reverter, who left the club, said finances would be sorted out in five years, so that would be 2026. But Barcelona do not have to wait until the years go by and nothing more.
To return to a stable economy in 2026, the club must qualify for the Champions League every season and reach the final stages of other championships.
But to achieve this, Barcelona will have to invest in quality players. Managers will have their work cut out for them: to build a quality team, which runs good campaigns and attracts sponsors, but not to spend a lot of money building that high-level team. Time will tell if Barcelona will once again be one of the best teams in the world by 2026.