Former Financial Advisor to Joan Laporta and investment banker Marc Ciria i Roig has claimed that Barcelona’s financial situation has only gotten worse during his tenure. Ciria was due to be Laporta’s economic president had he won the 2015 elections, and has supported Laporta in the past, but has accused Laporta of mortgaging Barcelona’s future in order sign players.
“I can’t make it to the end of the month and so I sell the house in Sardinia to cover emergencies,” Ciria told Relevo as a metaphor for Laporta’s management thus far. Barcelona recently took German investment firm Libero to court over €40m that has not been paid to the club for the purchase of 9.5% of Barca Vision.
“Barca Studios has a turnover of €3m, who will pay €400m for it? Libero sees that Barca Studios is made up of six companies. If I participate in a purchase and I see that there are six companies, I take advantage of one of the clauses and leave because it is confusing. Nobody develops Barca Studios. It was not what we had agreed upon,” said Ciria.
His view is that “there is no financial fair play, nor will there be”, referencing Laporta’s repeated claims that Barcelona will be able to sign without restrictions next summer. “Either sell players who are already ammortised, like [Ronald] Araujo or Pedri, or through investors or by selling BLM [Barca Licensing and Merchandising].”
Most damning of all, he notes that Barcelona are unlikely to come out of their financial conundrum any time soon.
“The situation is that the club has an operating deficit of €300m. In three years of €700m. We have not reduced the difference between income and expenses and we have sold assets. That has served to buy players and cover ordinary losses.”
Certainly it seems Laporta has been subjected to little accountability for his financial movements. While predecessor Josep Maria Bartomeu was wildly irresponsible with club accounts during the space of a decade, Barcelona remain in a similar situation to when he took over, according to Ciria. There is no doubt a balance to be struck in terms of remaining competitive on the pitch, but their big money signings – Jules Kounde and Raphinha – are not guaranteed starters, and Robert Lewandowski has been struggling since the beginning of 2023. All three were crucial in their La Liga title win, but none have lived up to expectations set by their price tag this season.