Josep Maria Bartomeu says no club has been worse affected by the coronavirus crisis than Barcelona – but he claims the club’s debt levels are still healthy.
With spiralling wages for the club’s stars, a number of expensive signings who haven’t made an impact on the pitch and the ‘Espai Barca’ Camp Nou redevelopment project, some have predicted financial troubles ahead for the club.
President Bartomeu looks to be projecting a message of calm, though he had a stark warning about the effects of Covid-19 on football.
“We saw that there was a pandemic worldwide and said that it would be a complex summer with swap deals, and that’s what is happening,” Bartomeu told Mundo Deportivo.
“Since March 14 we have not received a euro. We have missed out on €200 million (£182m/$233m). €200m!
“We have recovered a lot by reducing wages and using ERTE’s (Temporary Employment Regulation File, with the government paying 70 per cent of wages).
“We have had to close the shops and the museum, there have been no ticket sales. We have paid back the ticket money for matches fans couldn’t attend. €200m is a big blow.
“This pandemic will have effects for two or three seasons,” he added. “Nobody should think that things will be fixed by next season. The great financial gurus talk about four years, but I think football will go faster.”
Bartomeu was keen to stress the point that Barca aren’t above feeling the effects of the economic downturn from the virus.
“In our Strategic Plan we had planned on earning €1.1 billion (£1bn/$1.3bn) and now we will bring in 30 per cent less because of Covid,” he said.
“I say this because if someone thinks that the pandemic does not affect Barca, they are wrong. It affects the big European clubs and Barca is the European club that makes the most money and is the most affected.”
But, when asked about reports of the club being in poor financial health, Bartomeu was defensive.
“It’s not true," he said We had a higher level of income than the other big clubs but on March 14, everything stopped and we had to adapt to the new situation.
“And despite the losses, we will continue to be the leader in revenue. The club's debt level is not very high.
“When the audit ends in mid-August, the economic vice president Jordi Moix will explain it and we will see that we are at normal debt levels."