Bartomeu held a lengthy interview with the Spanish newspaper “Mundo Deportivo”, during which he talked about Barcelonas difficult financial situation, and responded to many accusations about his management of the club, and his opinion on the departure of captain Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain.
All of the following is from Bartomeu.
The reason why his administration issued a statement to respond to the current administration
The club’s situation is not as serious as the management says, the current situation is caused by the Corona virus.
A year has passed since we resigned from our positions, so we issued a statement to respond to those who say that we are still the cause of the economic problems.
What we want to emphasize is not to question the economic closure of the 2020-2021 season. Every administration has the right to close the fiscal year in the way it sees fit, but we wanted to clarify the impact of the pandemic.
Since the start of the pandemic phase in March of 2020, our revenue has suddenly declined and Barcelona has stopped getting enough revenue to pay salaries.
The word catastrophic management is widespread, but our management was serious, responsible and strict with a project that was put in place in 2015 and we were proceeding with it economically and socially, and this is not my talk, but the talk of the League and the European Football Association about financial fair play in addition to the auditors.
We were good management and Forbes magazine ranked Barcelona as the most valuable club in the world, and this is not achieved through improvisation, but through action.
The salaries were within the allowable limits of the European Union, but we did not expect the epidemic to occur. Of course, this is one of the reasons why the club is currently suffering.
We doubled our income in the past years and reached 1 billion euros, which meant that we could spend more on football teams and other sports and we got a lot of trophies in all the games.
I confirm that what is said that Barcelona is in bankruptcy is not true.
I would never let Messi leave, it would be wrong to let him leave Barcelona.
In the last renewal of Messi in 2017, we conducted a study to see the impact of this on revenues, and we paid him a lot, but the return behind his staying was greater.
In the summer of 2020, I struggled to keep Messi from leaving, I always thought he should stay not only because he is the best in the world but because of his economic contribution.
It is wrong to let Messi go, he is more than just a footballer and his departure is a serious problem.
I told Messi that if he wants to go to Qatar or China, we will talk about it and throw him a farewell party, and I told him that we want to be the last club in Europe for him to play for.
He insisted on leaving then and I asked him where she wanted to go but he didn’t know.
Messi was not happy? You have to ask him.
Messi saying there is no project? We won the league in 2019 and we were going to win the Champions League and get a hat-trick, but what happened against Liverpool changed a lot.
This is not an excuse, but Liverpool did not have any chance to return and then we lost the King’s Cup final in the absence of Luis Suarez and it is difficult to play without a striker.
Did Barcelona pay commissions to include its players?
I want to know who is the player for whom I paid a 30% commission, I never remember that, yes we paid commissions, but most of them are 5% and 10%, it is better to say the name of the player instead of just talking in general.
In the big deals like Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho, Frenkie de Jong, Luis Suarez and Marc-Andre ter Stegen we never paid that.
In 2020, we received an offer from an English club for 150 million euros to join Ansu Fati, and that would have contributed to settling our accounts, but our priority in Barcelona was the sports project, so we rejected the offer.
The same English club asked to include Dembele more than the amount we paid for him, but we refused.
Ascending contracts for players gradually go up over the years because we were getting more income and that puts us, as I said, within the salary limits set by La Liga.
There is a second type of contract for La Masia players, as they receive large sums at the end of their contracts, which is like an exit bonus, and this happened with Andres Iniesta and Xabi Hernandez, and Messi’s contract included that clause as well.
We can afford the high salaries because we were getting more revenue than any other club and because we wanted the best players and they were not thinking of leaving, but we did not imagine the Corona epidemic.
Revenue was down 40% but we had to take on the commitments.
The departure of Neymar and the inclusion of Dembele, Coutinho and Griezmann
We never imagined that any club would be able to break the release clause in Neymar’s 222 million euro contract.
After what happened, we were afraid that the same would happen with Messi, as the value of the penalty clause in his contract was 350 million euros.
But after Messi’s renewal in 2017, many players asked to renew their contracts as well, and we could bear that because the club was growing, but after the outbreak of Corona, everything changed.
After Neymar’s departure, the technicians wanted a player capable of opening the stadium and chose Dembele, but he was not a lucky player.
Coutinho We decided to include him because he was the best player in the Premier League and we signed him after the departure of Iniesta, but due to circumstances I do not know, he did not succeed.
Of course, Messi and Suarez said he was a good player, and some insisted that he was the natural alternative to Iniesta.
The dressing room has power and we have to listen to them and take their opinion into account and that’s not only happening in Barcelona and sometimes we don’t take their opinion into account.
Antoine Griezmann is a global player and his style of play fits the 4-3-3 plan, and the technicians insisted on his inclusion.
Griezmann went through periods of ups and downs, but his period in general witnessed scoring goals and making them and giving the team quality, but for some reason I do not know, he returned to Atletico Madrid.
Griezmann would have taken the responsibility for Barcelona as the veterans retired.
There was good planning to include Griezmann and Atletico did not want to negotiate and we had to pay the full penalty clause without installments and we got a loan to join him. I don’t see a problem with that.
Has the administration paid reporters to speak well for them?
I don’t know why they say that? There are journalists who work in the club and provide services to the club and get paid.
I’ve never paid someone to speak up for me well, I never will.
The club’s debt consists of bank debts and dues to clubs due to deals and the total debt in June 2021 was 1,350 million euros, but the net debt is 558 million euros.
Without the Corona epidemic, Barcelona would have lost only at the end of the 2020-2021 season, only 50 million euros.
The club now says that losses amounted to 550 million euros, with 225 million euros subtracted due to the Corona epidemic and case numbers of 263 million euros, in addition to the tax credit, the overall negative will be only 50 million euros.
The Corona virus affected all European clubs, but the difference is that their shareholders rebalanced the club with a capital increase or took out loans.
On the other hand, Barcelona cannot do this because it is not a corporate club, and there are other ways to recover from the crisis, albeit longer.
Recognizing in 2020 that Barcelona was ahead of other clubs is tantamount to acknowledging good management and a good legacy and the current management should take care of that.
Barcelona has never been in danger of a solution that is impossible, this club has player assets, easier and digital assets.
We knew with the Camp Nou 100% reopening we would get some of the income back.
I understand the problems of the current administration because we suffered from them and we have to give them confidence, as with the stadiums returning to receive the audience 100%, this will help them.
The sale of 49% of Barcelona for 220 million euros will help the accounts and have offers on the table.
His opinion on the investment fund project
The CVC investment fund project is interesting, with 260 million euros, allowing the start of quick projects such as team support or stadium maintenance, but the management did not interfere with the agreement.
I heard the administration wants to interfere with the agreement and that would be the right move.
Of course I would have signed that agreement, given that the league has not developed and we have to stick with the League because our big rival, the Premier League and the clubs that belong to it are high-income earners.
The investment fund agreement does not contradict the idea of the European Super League because I was at the beginning of the project in 2016.