Barcelona will not be able to reduce its wage bill to a sustainable level until several veteran players end their contracts, the club’s economic vice president said.
When presenting the budget for the current season, Eduard Romeu warned that it is most likely that two additional seasons will be required for Barcelona to have an acceptable limit on its salary burden.
Salaries skyrocketed to the point that Barcelona was left with the most expensive squad in world football under former president Josep Bartomeu and, added to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the club accumulated a colossal debt that continues to suffocate the management of the current President Joan Laporta. Romeu reported that Barcelona had a net debt of 608 million euros ($597 million) in June.
“The imbalance is the sports wage bill,” said Romeu. “There are a series of circumstances that have a very important cost and between this season and the next one they disappear”.
When asked if he was referring to the contracts of veterans Gerard Piqué, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, Romeu replied in the affirmative. Busquets, who is said to be able to go to the MLS in the United States, will end his contract at the end of the season. Piqué and Alba’s contracts expire in July 2024. They have all won multiple Champions League titles.
In recent campaigns, the club got rid of the astronomical salaries of Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho. Messi ended up signing with Paris Saint-Germain after the crippling financial situation prevented a new agreement with the Argentine star from being closed.
But instead of reducing the wage bill, Barcelona increased it this season with the signing of several new players, including Robert Lewandowksi, Jules Koundé and Raphinha. That increased the total amount of salaries to 656 million euros ($644 million) for this season from the previous figure of 518 million euros ($508 million).
According to Romeu, the club is seeking to reduce salary bills to 500 million euros ($491 million), with 420 million euros ($412 million) dedicated to the first team and 80 million euros ($78 million) for its affiliates and academy.
Barcelona closed the 2021-22 season with a profit of 98 million euros ($96 million), after paying taxes, the first time it has reached black numbers in three years, Romeu said.
But this was possible after the Catalan club sold 25% of its rights to broadcast its Spanish La Liga matches for 25 years and other assets for 866 million euros ($850 million).
Looking ahead to the 2022-23 season, Barcelona has budgeted 1.4 billion euros ($1.38 billion) in revenue and a profit of 275 million euros ($270 million).
To a question about whether a possible return of Messi could condition the figures, Romeo pointed out that this will be a decision of the sports management. “If you consider it, we will get to work for the objective. Messi is an asset to Barça and he has the doors open”, he stated.