SBD/March 23, 2011/Franchises

FC Barcelona President Sandro Rosell Pledges To Reduce Club's Debt

FC Barcelona last year reported an annual loss of US$112.8M
While FC Barcelona has enjoyed “sustained success” on the field, the La Liga club’s financial performance “has been less glittering,” according to Miles Johnson of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Barcelona President Sandro Rosell has “pledged to slash the club’s debt and to build on its success to increase revenues through international marketing.” The club last year reported an annual loss of $112.8M (all figures U.S.) and net debt of about $568.5M. The club during the credit boom “burnt through its cash by paying huge transfer fees.” As a result, Barcelona last year sought a $213.2M loan to “help pay player and staff wages and ushered in a new period of austerity.” The club in December “signed a five-and-a-half-year,” $234.5M contract with the Qatari government -- the “most lucrative shirt sponsorship deal” in soccer history. The club previously had filled the space with Unicef's logo “free of charge.” The Qatar deal is “likely to see the 121-year-old club’s revenues stay above” $568.6M this year, and “give it the chance to dethrone arch-rivals Real Madrid as the highest grossing team in the world.” Rosell, a former Nike exec, was “instrumental” in the Qatar deal and has “rebuilt the club’s board around figures with both managerial and international marketing skills.” Johnson noted the club’s earning capacity will be “helped by the increasingly tight grip Spain’s two richest teams hold over domestic and international broadcasting revenues.” Barcelona last year generated $253M from broadcasting, 44% of the club’s “total revenues and an annual rise” of 12% (FINANCIAL TIMES, 3/22).
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