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Joan Laporta has described the Ordinary General Assembly held on 17 October 2021 as "one of the most important in the history of the club" due to the importance of the items on the agenda for the future of Barça, including the financial accounts for the 2020/21 season and the budget for 2021/22, the funding of Espai Barça, the authorisation for the minority transfer of Barça Studios and the proposal to reform certain points in the Statutes. The president, in his report to the delegates, gave a detailed presentation of the current situation and promised that the club will always be owned by its members. In his concluding remarks, he called for trust and unity among Barça supporters to straighten out the delicate current situation.
Laporta began by explaining to the members that "today you, the owners of the club, and we, the members of the Board of Directors, have the responsibility to decide what we want Barça to be. Today we will tackle questions for the future, We will make decisions that will affect the next generations of Barça fans."
The president stressed the privilege of being able to decide, which is all thanks to the club's ownership model, which he pledged shall not change under his mandate: "Today, more than ever, Barça is in your hands” he said. “It does not belong to any country, nor to an investment fund. Barça is and will always be, at least as long as we continue to direct it, owned by the FC Barcelona members. Barça only belongs to Barça, and no financial, political or media power will be able to cross a red line that we have set for ourselves. We will defend our club's flag with greater strength and determination than ever."
"The worst accounts ever"
Laporta then focused on the club's financial situation, which he says is a consequence "of the serious deficiencies in the way the previous management ran the club ... They delivered the worst accounts in Barça history."
He spoke of the 481 million euro losses, and a negative EBITDA of 60 million due to a drop in income of 24% below the budgeted amount, adding that "when we have completed the Forensic audits, the legal team will be able to propose the possible consequences.”
The Barça president, however, insisted that "we have to look forward and focus on getting the club back to its old self. We have been working tirelessly for six months to get the club out of the institutional pit that it has fallen into. But we are not going to be able to fix this situation overnight."
Some the decisions and actions have already been taken to rectify the situation, such as the refinancing operation that has been negotiated and signed with Goldman Sachs at an interest rate of 1.98% over ten years, and the renegotiation of some of the players' contracts to reduce the payroll from 568 million to 412 million, as well as investments to reactivate assets and deal with the structural deficiencies in the Camp Nou.
"We have to roll up our sleeves to get Barça floating again and back where it deserves to be, but we cannot do it alone," he continued. "What we decide today will have an impact on what Barça is going to be in the century to come."
Strategic plan with three areas of focus
The Barça president also made reference to the Strategic Plan 2021-26 that is the tool “to move forward and save the Club,”, which is based on three key areas, “leadership, sustainability and the social aspect, which will allow us to make Barça loved, admired and respected all over the world once again and I am convinced that we can face up to the challenge of restoring FC Barcelona to its place as ‘more than a club’ and as the leading multi-sport club in the world.”
The first of those key areas is centred on a model around the members and fans, a sporting model based on La Masia and the Sporting Excellence Centre and the Espai Barça project, which is fundamental to be able to compete with its sporting rivals. In the second area the aim is to achieve economic sustainability and financial stability, on which Laporta insisted that “we need to press on to increase income,” and environmental sustainability.
The third key area is social in nature and Laporta referred to the new model of relationship between the Club and the Supporters’ Clubs “which must be more direct, efficient, transparent and functional,” and also the Barça Foundation and its own strategy “in order to contribute to making society fairer and freer” with the creation of a new Inclusion and Diversity department.
The Espai Barça project, one of the most important points in the Assembly, was another area touched upon by the president who insisted that the project is vital for the future of both the Club and the city, comparing its impact to that of the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992. “We will decide how we want the Barça of the next century to be. It has been needed for a while now. We will be responsible and we ask you to give us a vote of confidence as it is absolutely necessary to grow and to compete with our rivals. One of our rivals will reap the rewards of the work put in by the end of the season.”
Article 67 and the Statutes to be revised each year
Another very important topic in the Assembly was the reform and some of the articles in the Club’s Statutes, a point analysed by the president who made clear the necessity to “bring to the Club a new model of governance in sync with the century in which we live,” with regards to aspects such as globalisation in the current world which affects the reforms to allow members to sign up dusing a digital signature, the reform to regulate the relationship between the Club and the Supporters’ Clubs, the creation of the Commision of Ethics and Transparency and the duration of mandate at five years.
With regards to the point that refers to leaving provisionally suspended and without effect article 67, Laporta announced that the Board of Directors would “revise it every year” and take it to the Assembly depending on the situation in order to comply better to its aim of preserving the Club’s balance of assets and for that reason he asked the representatives “to give us time to turn the situation around, to stop it and next year look at it again.”
Finally, Laporta assured everyone that “we are a big family and only united can get the current situation under control and back on course” for that reason he asked for confidence in “this group of people who have risked their assets, creating an institution that we want. We are only moved by our love for Barça. We work and work to take decisions before we are here to save Barça.”
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