I did my best - Josep Bartomew writes Juan Laporta over Barcelona mess
|Under fire former Barcelona president Josep Bartomew has written a public note to the present administration, exonerating himself from the current situation the club is under. (Photo credit: Reuters)
You must have wondered what the latest is on Barcelona's situation, they may have gotten off on the right path with a win over Real Sociedad but the last has not been heard of the tussle between former president Josep Bartomew and current leader Juan Laporta.
Dear Mr. President
After your last statements and those of some members of your
Board of Directors, I feel obliged to address you in order to clarify certain
statements, clarify responsibilities and demand from you, as president,
immediate actions against situations that are seriously affecting, for being
misguided and manipulated, not only the image of the club, but also that of the
Board of Directors that I had the honor of presiding over for almost seven
1) In the first place, I remind you that you asked the
General Assembly of Undertaking Members, held on June 20, for the approval of
the accounts for the 2019-20 financial year formulated by our board of directors,
under the unquestionable argument that the liquidation faithfully reflected the
state economic, financial and patrimonial of FC Barcelona as of June 30, 2020.
The majority approval of the result of the 2019-20 audit
also validates the result of the mandate from July 2010 to June 2020. A mandate
initiated by the Board of Directors of President Sandro Rosell, with the
balance of a positive equity increase of 193 million, excluding losses caused
by the pandemic from March 14 to June 30, 2020, which, according to Royal
Decree 1162/2020 of December 22, will not be considered negative economic
results in the years affected by Covid-19 for computational purposes of the
Without subtracting these Covid losses of 97 million,
although they also represent an increase of 96 million and a net worth for the
club of 35 million, taking into account that we started the mandate in July
2010, with a negative equity of -60 million euros.
Now it is a very different situation from the one that
occurred in 2010 when the losses of 80 million (season 2009-10), gave a
negative result of the mandate (2003-2010) of 47.6 million euros. These
negative results were, then, a disastrous inheritance that your board left us.
For this reason, in the application of the regulations
derived from the Seventh Additional Provision of the Sports Law of 1992, it was
mandatory to submit to the Assembly of October 2010 the vote to initiate a
legal action of strict liability action for the replacement of the losses, not
by our will, as in an interested way it was being explained badly, if not by
complying with the law.
2) In relation to the responsibilities of my Board of
Directors in the financial year 2020-21, as you well know, given the surprising
position of the Procicat to authorize the convocation of the vote of no
confidence on Sunday, November 1, 2020 at the Camp Nou, we decided to resign
from our posts.
We did not want to put the health at risk, or in the
situation of violating the municipal confinement, the restriction of mobility
and assembly, ordered by the Government of the Generalitat on Thursday, October
29, just three days before the vote, of our 110,000 partners.
3) As a result of this dismissal of our Board -on October
27, 2020- it was impossible for us to continue making decisions aimed, above
all, at avoiding the impact of the huge losses expected as a consequence of the
alarming reduction in income caused by the pandemic, which, until now, have not
allowed the Camp Nou to reopen and, until a few weeks ago, have not allowed the
Museum, the Camp Nou Experience, the Camp Nou Megastore and the rest of the
Barça Stores to reopen. We are talking about the impossibility of making
effective 43% (approximately 375 million euros) of the income of the 2020-21
As is known, our Board of Directors had indicated March 21,
2021 as the electoral date, in the statutory term of the end of the mandate,
which would have allowed us, in this case, to face and assume the total
liquidation of the 2020 season -21 as was our wish, executing the necessary
decisions to avoid reaching the current financial situation. We would have been
solely responsible for the closure and its consequences. Decisions that the new
Board has not taken during these months, exposing its inaction.
4) As of March 14, 2020, the start date of the state of
alarm and total closure of the Club with the consequent unexpected and sudden
drop in income, as was our obligation and with the utmost concern, from the
first moment, our Board applied a non-refundable reduction of 12% in salaries
to all players, coaches and sports professionals of the Club with effect on the
2019-20 season, which served to alleviate, at least, in part, the fall from
At the end of the summer of 2020, with the information
provided by the Procicat, it was agreed to propose to the same players and
coaches an adaptation and a postponement of salary payments based on the
expected gradual return of the public at the Camp Nou and the tourism in our
city, an estimate that was expected from February 2021. Projections that were
not met and that, according to our plan, if the facilities were closed until
June 2021, it was necessary to apply a new reduction of the salaries, in this
case 20% (about 90 million), for the 2020-21 season.
Our board was no longer there to undertake the necessary and
urgent corrections. It is a decision that could only be made by the new
incoming Board of Directors, after the elections, but there was no action on
5) Likewise, as of April 2020, we started the Barça
Corporate project, consisting, to summarize it, in the entry of strategic
partners up to 49% for the joint exploitation of the four commercial assets not
directly linked to income from sports competitions:
- Barça Licensing and Merchandising (BLM): network of stores
for the commercialization of clothing and product licenses.
- Barça Studios: the most relevant sports digital innovation
center worldwide, via content, big data and audiovisual production.
- Barça Innovation Hub: platform to promote scientific and
technological research applied to sport and knowledge.
- Barça Academy: about 50 teaching centers around the world,
of the comprehensive training model for soccer sports and values.
We were able to finalize the confidential dossier and the
negotiations initiated with a total of four interested companies: Blackstone,
the consortium -Investindustrial, Elysian and Fanatics-, Abry Partners and
Artos. I know that the Management Commission transferred the letters of intent
(LOI) to you through Goldman Sachs, but there has been no reaction from your
Board in this regard.
In the event that your board had approved it, it would have
meant a minimum capital inflow of 220 million with the aim of reducing income
losses due to Covid that, without subscriptions, ticketing, museum, football
schools, shops, tours, etc. ... in the entire 2020-21 season they could be
about 375 million.
If to these 220 million we had added the necessary reduction
of 20% (90 million) of the players’ contracts, essential from March 2021 when
the most pessimistic expectations were confirmed, at this point, the salary
ratio marked by La Liga would be fulfilled, allowing the registration of
And with the possible income of 270 million from the
agreement of the League with CVC, today we would be talking about a practically
zero level of affectation due to income losses due to COVID’19.
We also left on the table, logically subject to the approval
of the partners, the entry of FC Barcelona into the pull of clubs promoting the
Super League, which would have meant a net entry of 350 million during the
month of May 2021. At the Once, it meant a growth in the football market where
clubs, like ours, who are not SAD, are losing the battle against the Club-State
or against the power of the Premier League, with its exploitation parameters,
insensitive to the Social co-ownership that we Barça fans enjoy.
6) It is clear, then, that our Board of Directors was fully
responsible for the sports planning of the 2020-21 season (the squads were
closed at the beginning of October), but, in no case, were we able to execute
the plans and economic actions planned. As has been shown, it was absolutely
necessary to take measures in the face of the possible increase in the impact
of the pandemic in the form of an exceptional fall in income and the inevitable
reduction in the wage bill, which your Board could have applied. In this sense,
and before our resignation, we started and set up the labor negotiation table
to face the terrible impact that the Covid was having on the Club.
The lack of reaction and action of its Board of Directors to
improve this balance of the 2020-21 season is surprising, despite being
perfectly aware of the economic and financial situation of our Club, long
before winning the elections, when the Management Commission , in several
meetings, he exposed it to all the candidates.
Also surprising is his decision to forgive 16.5 million to
the former player Neymar in the framework of a litigation where the
expectations in favor of FC Barcelona were quite clear and the auditor did not
oblige, in any case, to supply any amount. Why did you make this decision
contrary to the interests of the Club?
7) I will not be the one who denies or does not admit that
the situation of FC Barcelona, due to the pandemic was and is complex, and of
enormous difficulty, especially derived from a salary base, which we took to
the limits allowed by the League, trying to prolong and maintain the best
football team in history for 13 years and to be able to compete with the teams
of the Premier League and other State run clubs with practically inexhaustible
It was necessary to match the increasingly high offers for
our ‘franchise’ players. This goal has been a colossal and ongoing effort to
increase revenue. An effort that, on the other hand, has led us to be
recognized by the prestigious economic magazine Forbes as the most valuable
Club in the world in 2020 and by the International Federation of Football
History and Statistics (IFFHS) as the best team of the decade. 2011-2020, merit
attributable to all the people who before and after our time at FC Barcelona
have worked and will continue to work to maintain this excellence.
8) In the patrimonial area and in compliance with the
mandate given by the socios in the referendum (2014), we also welcome the
excellent news that it represents for FC Barcelona, the rejection of the few
allegations raised against Espai Barça -approved by all the groups of the
Plenary of the Barcelona City Council (except the CUP) - which represents the
definitive and flawless green light for the processing of building permits.
Also of the possible continuity of the financing plan with Goldman Sachs of an
absolutely necessary and urgent Club project that has already begun with the
construction of the Johan Cruyff Stadium and the demolition of the Miniestadi.
In short, the approval of the modification of the general metropolitan plan
(MPGM) has been a work of five years and a series of urban and neighborhood
agreements, all of them validated by the Barcelona City Council.
9) In conclusion, this communication will serve to clarify
the following points:
- The General Assembly of Committing Members on June 20,
with your request for a favorable vote, approved the accounts for the 2019-20
season with benefits from our mandate (2010-2020) of 96 million (193 million
without covid19) and a positive net worth of 35 million.
- We always work consciously and in compliance with the
League salary ratio and the UEFA financial Fair Play limit in order to remain
competitive against the Premier League and the Club-States, against whom we are
clearly at a disadvantage.
- As a direct consequence of our dismissal, caused by the
intransigence of the Procicat, we were not able to apply the economic and
financial measures (Barça Corporate, salary reduction, possible Super League
bonus and / or La Liga-CVC agreement bonus) planned against the 375 million in
revenue reduction due to the impact of Covid, measures that your new Board
would have had to apply.
- Our board, which left office on October 27, 2020, is not,
by statute, responsible for the economic and financial settlement of the
2020-21 financial year.
- The announced losses of 487 million are surprising
compared to a reduction in income of 375 million. They must be explained in
detail to all partners. I hope it’s not like 2003, when we tried to write-down
the book value of the outstanding amortization of certain players. Remember
that it was not a decision accepted then by the Provincial Court of Barcelona.
- On the other hand, we do have full sporting responsibility
as a result of the planning of all the sections of FC Barcelona, with quite
good sporting results, especially satisfied with the contributions from the
- We leave the Espai Barça approved and fully validated by
the Barcelona City Council.
10) Finally, I ask you to make public, and as soon as
possible, the detailed results of the audit and / or due diligence and, if any,
the precise information, to all partners of the irregularities that, allegedly,
you indicate , to avoid speculation and suspicions about “allegedly criminal”
actions and, also, to avoid interested and biased leaks in the media.
In the event of finding indications of irregular actions
that, of course, I have neither ordered nor known, I promise to be the first to
adopt the pertinent legal measures to clarify them, and, if necessary, punish
these illegal assumptions.
My will in this regard remains the same, to offer socios