Interesting comments by Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu that the planned expansion of the Camp Nou will not take place until the club has reduced its debt by over €100m.
“There is much work to be done,” the Barcelona president said during a speech on Thursday. “Before the work begins, the debt must be be reduced to the limit of 200 million.
“We will not initiate any project that involves a large investment without reducing the debt. We do not want to risk the future of the club or our heritage.
“One of the strategies to fund the project is to seek out a sponsor for the stadium, Bartomeu confirmed, adding that the search has already begun.
He said: “One of our goals to fund the Espai Barca is to find a company partner, which we are looking for. “Now that we have clear plans, we will look into the market. We have a lot of work to do.”
In their treble winning season last year, Barca generated a record income of €608 million and a profit of €15 million. Keep in mind that reducing the debt by a third will not be easy, especially when you have the three top strikers in the world all lined up for new contracts.
And Barca’s current wage bill, before raises to Neymar, Messi and Suarez is already at 68% of total income, which is just under the recommended 70% maximum threshold.
And even that is high. Many of the top clubs in the world have a wage bill that is around 50-55% of total revenue. Being at 68% does not leave the board much wiggle room to continue to add top players to the squad.
Which is why I think the only way that Barca can get their debt under €200m and expand the Camp Nou to 105,000 is to sell one of their crown jewels. Selling Lionel Messi or Neymar seems unthinkable, but the transfer fee from either one significantly reduces the debt and the wage bill.
What do you think of Bartomeu’s comments? Do you think Barca can reduce its debt without selling one of its stars?