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‘Full of lies’ – Laporta responds to Bartomeu’s letter over €1.35bn debt

Joan Laporta, Josep Maria Bartomeu, FC Barcelona
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The FC Barcelona president gave a scathing response to a letter from his predecessor and revealed the club’s debt is now at €1.35 billion.

Joan Laporta has slammed Josep Maria Bartomeu’s open letter as ‘full of lies’ and an ‘exercise in despair’.

Bartomeu sent an open and very long letter to his Barcelona successor on Friday attempting to absolve himself from blame for the club’s dire financial situation, which culminated in Lionel Messi’s exit.

In the letter, Bartomeu claimed to have a plan to save Barcelona from its debts. The former president drew up economic measures aimed at solving the club’s financial woes. But all that went to waste when the Catalan was forced to resign in October 2020. He also revealed how his board had big-money potential deals in the pipeline, all of which Laporta dropped the minute he took over.

Then if that wasn’t bad enough already, Bartomeu accused Laporta of not doing enough to help the club. He even boldly claimed his successor paid Neymar money he wasn’t owed this summer.

What did Laporta have to say?

In response to Bartomeu’s letter, Laporta revealed the full extent of the problems he has encountered since becoming Barcelona president for a second term in March.

“When we took over the club we asked for a bridge loan of €80m (£68m/$94m) granted by Goldman Sachs because we would not have been able to pay the salaries of players and employees,” said Laporta in a press conference on Monday.

“The previous board had received an advance of €79m (£67m/$93m) relating to 50 percent of La Liga’s television rights and the banks charged it at 9% interest.

“The reduction of wages by the previous board was not real. We have found those millions in different types of bonuses and variables included in the new contracts. We have found disproportionate payments to intermediaries, not agents, a transfer that cost €40m (£34m/$47m) and for a purchase premium we paid €8m and a sale premium of €2m. A person was paid €8m to find players in South America.

“The entity’s controls were bypassed. Invoices were divided up, such as those of ‘I3 Ventures’ with ‘Barcagate’, invoices of ‘Espai Barca’, and of the debt contracted were also divided so as not to go through the Assembly.

“Bartomeu’s letter is full of lies. It obeys an effort to justify management that is unjustifiable. It is an exercise in despair. We have a salary bill that represents 103% of the club’s total income. It represents 20-25% more than our competitors.

“No one is going to escape from those responsibilities. The economic situation is worrying and the financial situation is dramatic. Barcelona has a net worth of minus €451m (£383m/$531m) and a debt of €1.35bn (£1.15bn/$1.59bn).”