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The president Joan Laporta has appeared in press conference to go through the current FC Barcelona position in various areas in which the new Board of Directors are working since their election on 17 March. The man in charge at Barça said the appearance was "because we need to explain things in the light of a sense of impatience we have perceived surrounding the Club." The president was open on all subjects, sporting, financial and institutional that are affecting the Club.
Joan Laporta explained that at the moment the Club is in the process of combining "finishing off a project that we think has not worked and the construction of a model for the Club that we are convinced will turn around the financial situation and will bring a smile back to the faces of Barça fans." For that reason, the Club is carrying out a Due Diligence audit in the areas of 'labour, fiscal, legal and sports, Espai Barça, cybersecurity."
The president hopes to give more information when the audits reach their conclusion and he also admitted that what people surrounding the club expect and the work that is being done internally "have different paces" but he did want to send a message to Barça fans: "Patience, optimism and the conviction that next season, 2021/22, will be successful and stimulating. I am happy with how things are being done and I am sure that the teams we will have are to the taste of all the Barça fans."
The blaugrana president also shed some light on the current financial situation at the Club, although he was reluctant to draw too many conclusions before the results of the Due Diligence audit in July. "In the Assembly on 20 June we will have information but things are coming out that we need to resolve, some are worrying, others surprising, others difficult, but they have solutions. We will be as transparent to the full."
In answering questions from the press, Joan Laporta was clear about any responsibility held by the previous board with regards to financial decisions taken in the past. "We will ask for responsibility to be taken. We have to finish the Due Diligence audit first and then we can analyse the situation but we will ask for responsibility to be taken because it has led the club into a precarious economic situation. We are making efforts to turn it around but there are large losses and debts that have been created. Fortunately, the Club has great potential and we are working to restructure the debt and we can see that there is a lot of interest in Barça."
Turning the situation around
Joan Laporta recognised that current wage bill is 110% of the predicted income due to, in part, Covid." The 650 millions between salaries and amortisations will be adjusted, we are working on that." The president explained that to fulfill current Financial Fair Play requirements will be "difficult" and it is a case of "reducing costs and generating income." As such, Laporta is open to offers for shirt sponsorship although he admitted "we would like Rakuten to continue", he also revealed that the Club has received offers greater than the one they currently have. Laporta also said they are working on the 'title rights' for the stadium and he was optimistic on this subject.
Laporta also discussed the improvement plan with regard to the new stadium and its integration in the surrounding district, which has been presented to Barcelona City Council. The verdict of the audit has yet to be announced but he can forward that "the final budget will be more than the forecast 825 million euros, we will need more funds … But if the club’s proposals are accepted, we’ll be able to begin work on the new Palau and the renovated Camp Nou … One of the changes this plan foresees is to move the three buildings planned for in front of the stadium so that they don’t block the architectural delight that we will have. The council is receptive, and we’ll also make certain architectonic modifications to the stadium, which we are sure that everyone will love because the old idea is now obsolete.”
As for the possibility of having to play games in the Olympic Stadium, the president said "we want people to be able to attend matches in the stadium while the work is going on, but there will be a period of what we calculate to be eight months that will need covering and when we’ll need to move. We need to speak to the council about the plans for use of the Olympic Stadium, and will have to play elsewhere for a while, but not for as long as we thought and we’ll return as soon as we can.”
The Super League
The proposed Super League was one of the most talked about issues at Laporta’s press conference. He justified the reasons why Barça needs to be an active partner in all of the big changes happening in football, saying that "our position is very clear and that is to always defend Barça’s interests, for clubs to be financially sustainable and to foster dialogue between institutions and find solutions … All of the clubs have suffered losses, they are all in debt, except for the ‘state’ clubs, who simply have to make a phone call and therefore want things to stay as they are. Other agents are getting richer and we the clubs are paying for that party,”
As for the threats from UEFA that the Super League clubs could face penalties, Laporta insisted that "if we get penalised, we won’t sit here with our arms crossed. We have the CAS and the ordinary courts, and I’m convinced that we’d win.”
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