Barcelona amazingly re-signed Ousmane Dembele and brought in Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Frank Kessie, Andreas Christensen and Pablo Torre.
In 2021, Barcelona revealed that the club had incurred debt reaching up to €1.2 billion (£1.1b/$1.5b), along with short-term debt of roughly €730m (£648m/$886m).
This was due to gross financial mismanagement by the former administration under President Josep Maria Bartomeu. With the club paying excess fees on signing players like Philipe Coutinho, Malcom, Antoine Griezman, Ousmane Dembele and Arthur — who all eventually flopped at Camp Nou.
They still reportedly owed about €100m transfer fees on several different players.
The Catalans also paid huge fees as wages in order to lure players from other clubs (amid competition) and to also keep their best players.
The unfortunate outbreak of coronavirus pandemic hit the club’s finances very hard. Notably, fans couldn’t visit stadiums and Barca were unable to sell tickets — one of its major income streams.
Barcelona had earlier ended the 2019/20 season with a net debt of €488m (£434m/$593m), and the club had been negotiating a delay of those payments with its creditors — impact of what the coronavirus pandemic has had on the club’s finances.
Their financial woes reached a disastrous point in the summer of 2021 as they were unable to afford a new contract to their greatest ever player, Lionel Messi. The Argentine eventually departed the club on a free transfer.
The were also forced to sell and loan out some players as well as reducing their huge wage bill before they could meet financial regulations.
The year 2021 was a forgettable year in Barca’s history as they suffered financial meltdown, lost Lionel Messi and embarrassingly crashed out of the UEFA Champions League group stages!!!
In this article, FootballOrbit looks at how Barcelona have tackled their money crisis.
Barcelona’s new President, Joan Laporta, ushered in a new era; making more efficient financial decisions and ensuring the club doesn’t suffer a disastrous setback on the pitch that may take years to recover from.
He appointed Mateu Alemany as the new Sporting Director and what a masterstroke that was!
Alemany made shrewd moves that has ensured that the Blaugranas are still signing the best players in world football and equally balancing the books, despite their monumental debts.
Ferran Torres and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were headline signings in the 2022 January transfer window while the likes of Ansu Fati, Ronald Araujo, Pedri, Gavi and Sergi Roberto were tied to new contracts.
Furthermore, the current 2022 summer transfer window has seen Barcelona amazingly re-signed Ousmane Dembele while the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Frank Kessie, Andreas Christensen and Pablo Torre have been brought in to further bolster their ranks.
Furthermore, Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso are expected to join from Chelsea while a new centre-back is being sought-after.
Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva is also a target although Barca might be priced out of making a move for him this summer.
How have Barcelona been able to sign players and renew contracts despite being cash-strapped?
Barcelona signed a sponsorship deal with music streaming giant, Spotify, with the agreement set to earn the club over €280 million (£236m/$309m).
The deal will also see their iconic Camp Nou stadium renamed to Spotify Camp Nou.
Additionally, Spotify will become Barca’s main shirt sponsors from the 2022/23 season onwards — as well as sponsoring their training gear and the women’s team too.
Apart from delivering much-needed financial stability for the Blaugrana amid their finances woes, the Spotify deal will see the brand partnered across more than just Camp Nou.
In June, President Joan Laporta was given permission to sell club assets by the Barca members’ assembly as they targeted investment funds capable of providing finances so that operations could run as normal in the short term.
Barca successfully sold a first package of financial assets and later struck a €207.5 million (£176m/$207m) deal with investment group Sixth Street on the 30th of June 2022.
The club sold 10 per cent of its La Liga TV rights to the American firm for the next 25 years.
It ensured that they turned a profit at the end of the 2021/22 financial year — as they make giant moves towards reversing their financial crisis.
A second economic lever is now being worked on to raise funds so that Barca no longer exceed La Liga’s salary limit.
Another 15 per cent of their TV rights is set to be sold in return for additional €300m (£254m/$300m).
The Catalans are also selling 49.9% of the shares of the Barca Licensing and Merchandising (BLM) company.
All these is expected to bring their total revenue this summer to more than €600m (£509m/$600m) and will equally allow them to register new players for the 2022/23 season.
Offloading players to raise funds
Having spent €100m, Barcelona must now shift their attention to selling some players from their squad.
So far, the sales of Philippe Coutinho (€20m), Rey Manaj (€2.5m), Trincao’s loan to Sporting CP (€3m) and Clement Lenglet’s loan to Tottenham (€5m) have brought in €30.5 million.
Sergino Dest, Miralem Pjanic, Moussa Wague, Neto Murara, Samuel Umtiti, Oscar Mingueza, Riqui Puig and Martin Braithwaite are also on the transfer list.
While the possible departure of higher-profile names is also not being ruled out, including Manchester United target Frenkie de Jong and fellow Dutchman Memphis Depay.
The club are still waiting on whether de Jong will agree to join Manchester United for €75m. The fee will go a long way in assuaging their financial issues.
Although he wants to remain at the club, the Blaugranas are ready to sell him given they don’t have many players in their squad that could command a similar fee.
Dani Alves has departed as a free agent while Luuk de Jong has returned to PSV.
Barcelona need to be extremely careful for the foreseeable future though, with their overall income set to be reduced as a result of selling a portion of their main economic assets.
It is a very risky decision as the club have basically taken out a massive mortgage on their future to an extent that no other team has ever done before.
The decisions are not totally bad and could eventually turn out great but it is so risky.
What is more concerning is the fact that the people making the decisions right now (President Joan Laporta and the board) may not be around to face the consequences in the future should things go wrong.
But for now, Barcelona are set to reap the short-term benefits and will continue competing on the pitch at the highest level!!!