Josep Maria Bartomeu, the former president of Barcelona, responded, through an official statement, to Joan Laporta’s accusations, that Bartomeu’s administration was the reason for the deteriorating economic situation of the Catalan club.
Barcelona suffers economically so badly that it was unable to renew the contract of Argentine legend Lionel Messi, despite the agreement on the new contract between the two parties, but the bloated salary mass in the club prevented the contract from being registered.
And the Spanish newspaper “Sport” published what was stated in Bartomeu’s statement, which came in defense of the previous administration and sent it to Joan Laporta.
What did Bartomeu say in his statement to Laporta?
In his statement, Bartomeu refuted what he described as the fallacies that Laporta presented recently, especially during the farewell conference of Argentine Lionel Messi.
And the statement that Bartomeu sent to Laporta said: “I publish the results of the audit that I have done, and if I find illegal things, I will respond, and if there are, I know fully that we did not ask for them, and I do not know anything about them, and I will confront those who did them.”
He added: “We remind you that you requested the approval of the General Assembly held in June on our financial accounts for the term of our board of directors, and the approval of the majority came to confirm the soundness of our financial position.”
He continued: “Excluding losses caused by the conditions of the epidemic, our board of directors achieved a positive capital increase of 193 million euros.
And he added: “As a result of the withdrawal of confidence, it was impossible for us to take further decisions aimed at stopping the bleeding of losses resulting from the pandemic, so far the Camp Nou stadium has not been opened, and the museum or the club store has only recently reopened, we are talking about the impossibility of investigating 375 million euros of income that was expected in the 2020-2021 season, which was 43% of the budget.
He continued: “Our board of directors set the date for the elections in March 2021. We aimed to continue taking the necessary decisions to avoid reaching this financial situation. The new board of directors did not take any new decisions during this period, and this indicates its inaction.”
Regarding the measures taken by his administration to improve the situation, Bartomeu confirmed: “From the first moment of the closure that affected the club’s imports, we decided to reduce the salaries of all employees and athletes in the club. We made a non-refundable 12% reduction on all salaries.”
And he continued: “At the end of the summer of 2020, it was agreed between everyone to postpone the payment of dues, on the basis that the plan requires the return of the masses and tourism in February 2021, and this did not happen, and led to a decline in income and a further reduction of salaries, with a value of about 90 million euros.”
Bartomeu believes that Laporta neglected Barcelona’s rights when he decided to reconcile Neymar, stressing: “Laporta’s decision to forgive Neymar and solve the case amicably is very surprising. The expectations in favor of Barcelona were completely clear, why did he take this decision contrary to the interests of the club?”
He continued: “With regard to the legacy of the club, we carried out everything that the members delegated to us in the General Assembly, and the Espai Barsa project was approved in all Barcelona city councils except for the CPU, and that was the green light we needed to start the flawless project.”
He continued: “With the continuing prospect of financing from Goldman Sachs, we built the Johan Cruyff stadium, and we demolished the small stadium, the approval of the new urban and environmental scheme for our project was the result of five years of work, and a series of urban and environmental agreements, all approved by the City Council.”
Bartomeu said of Barcelona’s economic situation: “I do not deny that we are in a bad situation because of the epidemic, and this is because of the mass of salaries that we have raised to the maximum allowed by the League in order to prolong the life of the best team in the history of football for 13 years, and to be able to compete with clubs English Premier League and other clubs.
He accused Bartomeu Laporta of not being able to reduce the salary bill further, and said: “We wanted another reduction in the salary bill, we prepared a negotiating table in this regard, your board of directors could have reduced more, but this did not happen.”
He added: “The lack of action on your part and the lack of reaction in order to restore balance is surprising, although you are well aware of the situation of the financial team, and although we have held several financial meetings with the candidates to explain all the details.”
Bartomeu confirmed that he was able to secretly agree with four major and reliable companies to support the club further, but the current board of directors did not move to terminate the agreements, and said: “If you agreed to the directive presented to you regarding the proposed financial partnership, this means ensuring the arrival of 220 million euros. It would have reduced losses and, with the most pessimistic outlook, meant ensuring a salary cap and the possibility of players being registered.”
And at the conclusion of Bartomeu’s message, he said: “We left you on the table on the condition that the members agree to the European Super League project, which guarantees the flow of 350 million euros until May 2021, and this means the growth of our clubs that are not supported by countries, and do not have the financial strength of the English Premier League clubs.”