Barcelona can breathe a little easier after a Â£ 451million (â¬ 525million) refinancing deal received the green light from members.
The Spanish giants, who are still agitating for the rise of the Super League with Real Madrid and Juventus, have been one of the clubs in European football most affected by the financial chaos caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The club’s debt exceeds â¬ 1 billion and concern grows over the threat of a potential catastrophe that, with a significant portion of that debt owed in the short term, they have not been able to meet certain of their financial obligations. .
The loan, arranged with US investment bank Goldman Sachs, was approved by Barcelona members at an extraordinary general meeting this weekend and will run for a period of 15 years with an interest rate of 3%.
Its function will not be to support the club’s recruiting campaign and aid transfer fees, rather it will be used to meet salary obligations as well as to enable them to repay debt accumulated in past transfers.
Among those past transfers of which they have yet to pay the balance is the Â£ 142million signing of Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool in 2018, a move which has represented remarkable activity for the Reds in the market and which allowed them to exit and land. of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson, two additions so crucial to the club’s success in the Champions League and the Premier League.
For Coutinho and Barcelona, ââthere is no relationship that has gone as well as either would have hoped, with the Brazilian struggling for form throughout his time in Spain and seeing his value plummet. at around Â£ 25million and linked to a move away from Camp Nou this summer.
But Barcelona still owe money on Coutinho’s deal.
Barca’s October 2020 accounts showed that the amount owed to the Reds was Â£ 35.5million in short and long term debt. But the Reds have already received this money after selling their debt to a third-party financial institution.
But while that debt has been sold, a move that has been taken to free up capital for other projects, the possibility remains, based on the potential terms of the debt sale, that the risk remains with Liverpool if Barcelona had to be lacking. on that debt, something that had seemed unthinkable when the debt was sold before the pandemic.
Kieran Maguire, senior lecturer at the University of Liverpool and author of the Football Prize, explained to ECHO last year: âBarcelona technically owe Liverpool more money, which is why it appears to be so. in the accounts, but what happens is the money is paid and Liverpool then sends it to the third party who bought the debt.
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“Liverpool have received all the money owed for Coutinho, but Barcelona have yet to pay it all.
“While this is fairly normal practice, there is a question as to what happens if Barcelona default on their payments, what impact will that have on Liverpool? It would depend on the terms of the deal with the third party . “
But loan approval with Goldman Sachs means Barcelona now have the capacity to meet their obligations, even though they still have huge battles with their dire finances that will hamper their transfer business for some time to come. . This is the reason why they and Real Madrid, themselves heavily in debt, have been prepared to take on UEFA and continue to refuse to back down in their desire to see the European Super League become a reality.
The club’s economic vice-president Eduard Romeu said it was not just the pandemic that was to blame for what was happening at one of the biggest football clubs in the world, telling members: “Covid isn’t to blame for everything, things were going badly before that. “
Responding to questions from members, the newly elected president Joan Laporta, back for a second term after taking over from the unpopular Josep Maria Bartomeu, stressed: âThe loan is necessary to give the club a break and not take anything away from them. limb pockets. “
Barcelona have added two big names to their squad ahead of the 2021/2022 season, with the arrival of Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay, but although salaries are important, both have been signed for free transfers.
The refinancing deal was approved by 89 percent of the members.