Joan Laporta
Barcelona president Joan Laporta criticized his predecessor Jose Bartomeu regarding the club’s severe debt totaling €1.35 billion. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)

Barcelona President Joan Laporta Criticizes Predecessor Over Club Debt

FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta did not hold back any punches regarding his predecessor’s mismanagement of the club’s finances. Barcelona is reportedly €1.35 billion in debt and Laporta has been criticized by former president Jose Bartomeu over his management of the club. However, the current president took time in a Monday press conference to return the fire, saying that the Bartomeu’s criticism is “full of lies.”

“As of March 21, 2021, the debt was €1.35bn. Bartomeu was plugging holes in the short term and mortgaging the club in the long term. That leaves us a dramatic inheritance. To the initial debt of €617m you have to add €389m on players, €90m in litigation, €79m in advance television rights and €56m from the ‘Espai Barca’ project. In total, it’s €1.35bn.”

VIA ESPN

The blame continued with Laporta saying that Bartomeu inevitably laid the foundation for the events that have transpired this summer, including Lionel Messi’s departure and Gerard Pique’s wage reduction. Barcelona’s wage bill took up 103% of the club’s income, a statistic so staggering it needs no explanation.

Bartomeu did write an open letter to the Spanish press last week, but Laporta says that the failures of the Barcelona administration fall solely on his predecessor.

“I have read [the letter] carefully and it is full of lies. It is an effort to justify unjustifiable management. It is an exercise in desperation, that looks to take advantage of a moment of unrest among Barcelona fans.”

VIA ESPN

“They say they are not responsible for the 2019-20 accounts, but they are responsible until March 17, 2021. The numbers are [Bartomeu’s] board’s responsibility. Nobody will escape from that.”

VIA ESPN

A financial review board has been assembled in order to figure out where the fault lies between the two administrations, with Laporta saying that a decision will come next month.

“The due diligence process will be laid out in September and then we’ll establish where responsibility lies. Some issues like ‘Barcagate’ are already being looked at by the courts. It is too soon to say. First we have to ascertain what liabilities there are. I can’t say if we will take legal action.”

VIA ESPN

The blame game will likely continue, but Bartomeu’s rapid spending was a significant catalyst for the deep financial hole the Spanish giants find themselves in today. According to BeSoccer, the former Barca president signed 34 players in his six-year tenure, amassing a total spend of €1.082 billion.

Barcelona is laden with talent, but at what cost? Well, one could come very close to buying the Memphis Grizzlies at their $1.3 billion evaluation or open up more than 127,000 Chick-Fil-A franchises. Still, the organization would likely mismanage both of those anyway. Laporta has to right the ship and he has to do it quickly, because Barcelona fans have no trouble removing leadership and the clock is most certainly ticking.

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