A [lackluster] Treatise on Barcelona Finances

By now you are well aware of the monetary news being published today.  FC Barcelona has announced a record profit of 48.8M euros for the 2011-12 season.   A quick list of the reasons for this positive turn contains: lack of bonus payout due to failure to win La Liga (12M euros) and the Champion’s League (unknown amount), ever-increasing ticket sales, growth of the global brand, record kit sales, increased domestic and international TV revenue, the sale of Maxwell, and the rescission of problem contracts on the books for years. Compared to the past two seasons, and in light of the impending Financial Fair Play (FFP) penalties to be imposed by UEFA, this is an extremely encouraging development.  But this is FC Barcelona, it’s more than a club, and that means responses ranging from exultant to downtrodden and everything in between.  So let’s dig in a little deeper shall we?

It is probably best to get this out of the way early, but Barcelona is a business and it is a brand, and it is those things above all else. It is a fan-owned business with an elected corporate leadership and the sooner that the fan base accepts this fact and understands that the club will be run like a business, the better.

It is difficult for many to hear, and some of you will vehemently disagree with me, but FC Barcelona, for all of its history and meaning to Catalans and the ideals it has embodied, must be run like a business, and a successful one at that, in order to survive and succeed. The trappings of modern association football are such that the bottom line must come first. No longer can a club sit back on its laurels and hope that winning cures all, or even that great history will do the trick, just look to AC Milan right now.  Shaving untold millions off in fire sales disguised as transfers because winning wasn’t enough and exterior factors did them in when it came to coming in under FFP.  To this end, Barcelona has moved to act more like a business and less like an extremely large social club.

One idea is that the club leadership should funnel all profits directly back into the club coffers because of the partnership between fan owners and administration, but that’s not how incorporated partnerships work. The club is out to be profitable and successful, probably in that order. It might hurt to hear this, but that’s the nature of business. It’s impersonal and it’s not particularly worried with how you or I feel. One step in this direction was the sponsorship deal.

The sponsorship deal with Qatar Foundation, the richest in the world ever signed to that point, has been a boom for Barcelona financially, and while many maligned such a move as “selling out” or “selling our souls,” it was a financially sound and financially necessary move.  (Incidentally, if we’re really looking to complain about it, shouldn’t we look more toward Qatar’s woeful treatment of women and minorities and its generally awful civil rights record, instead of worrying about what it does to the club’s image?) Qatar Foundation also had some part, however small, in the largest amount of kit sales in the club’s history. Of course this could also have something to do with fielding some of the most popular players in the world, but what do I know?

Now the other piece to this puzzle is the club’s handling of the announcement. After years of bashing the Laporta administration, Rosell takes to the airwaves to tout his successes and effectively rub it in the faces of Joan and his supporters. Instead of simply putting this information out there, it has been bandied about to every press organization that will carry, including as far away as the New York Times.

What does all this mean? Well, fans had better get used to this being run like a business looking out for profit for the foreseeable future and yes this includes possibly selling the naming rights to the Camp Nou, so just prepare yourselves. It also means that the club’s finances are likely to continue to be used as a political tool for the foreseeable future. Running the club as a business is a good idea, but using this as a political motivator is not. Does this mean Barça sold its soul? Possibly, but remember, the market value for anything is what someone else is willing to pay for it.

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30 Comments

  1. July 21, 2012

    Its rumored that EE are considering selling the naming rights to their stadium to Emirates as well. Such gimmicks will probably be commonplace now due to the FFP.

    I’ve heard rumors that we want to build a new stadium as well. Why I don’t know. Just for increasing corporate boxes?

    • Richzorz
      July 21, 2012

      Unfortunately I’ve never been there but I’ve read the Camp Nou lags far behind other major stadiums in terms of match-day revenue (despite the huge capacity) as well as being a pretty old structure…

      • Messiah10
        July 21, 2012

        Yeah, but I’d rather have the mystique and aura of Camp Nou then the commercialized stadiums that are corporate friendly. Hence, more corporate suites, gimmick half time shows and family friendly area’s, including playgrounds, fan zones, etc. Most American sports have gone this route at the expense of the “experience” and atmosphere of a ball park, football stadium, etc. I only hope Barca will not follow. There’s no need for a new stadium. If repairs are needed, then get them done, but don’t sell us this idea that a new stadium is needed for revenue. The Camp Nou is the largest football stadium in Europe. Capacity alone generates millions of dollars. Rosell just wants to sell out to corporate Europe and that will be at the expense of “true” fans. I’ve seen it in America for the last 15 years. It’s sad.

        • nzm
          July 21, 2012

          Mystique and aura are something that’s missing at Camp Nou – apart from being bloody huge and having an amazing team playing on the pitch.

          It’s an aging concrete monstrosity which badly needs some TLC in the common areas.

          The openness of the stadium makes it very hard to get an atmosphere going, unless you have a crowd of about 80,000+ in there to provide some acoustical muffling.

          With less people, if chants start down one end, it takes a couple of lines before it’s heard down the other end, and then the chants become hopelessly out of sync and the crowd stops singing because it sounds awful.

          I’d like to see some sort of half-roof or arches go over it – at least something that could help to build the atmosphere and keep the noise contained.

          • Messiah10
            July 22, 2012

            I know it’s hard to get noise there, but I’d say it’s more down to the supporters lack of intensity. It’s well know that Barca’s fans are more subdued then many other clubs. When I’m watching the games it seems as if the supporters want the team to “show” them something, or put on a spectacle, before they get riled up. It should be the opposite. The team needs support through thick and thin. No matter the quality of play. I was referring to it being their home for so many years and the special moments that have taken place in the Camp Nou. It’s hard to replace those memories. It’s also an imposing sight for opposing players. Whether it’s full capacity or not. When they walk onto the pitch for the 1st time their probably thinking good god!

      • samarth-culé
        July 21, 2012

        What are the reasons for the less match-day revenue btw ?
        #Curious

        • Ryan
          July 21, 2012

          Us common folk don’t bring in as much money as the corporate sky boxes would.

  2. July 21, 2012

    Also, nice to see Luke posting after such a long time..

      • mom4
        July 21, 2012

        Sorry, I’m with Blitzen. These are sad. But then again, I’m one of the few who likes the tequila sunrise kit. Saw it in a store a few days ago. It looks much better in person.

      • BarcaOwl
        July 21, 2012

        Nzm, thank you SO much for the season review. It does help put things in perspective.

        Haven’t been commenting much because i’ve to find a new job by the end of July thanks to the company closing its doors. 🙁

        • nzm
          July 22, 2012

          Thanks, BarcaOwl – we’ve missed you!

          Good luck for the job-hunting – I hope that you have success very soon.

    • BarcaOwl
      July 21, 2012

      Alright. I take it back. I like the cocktail shirt. Polka dots are just so many levels of wrong.

    • July 21, 2012

      You watching too? It’s not great but I’m rooting for the 17-yr-old GK TFC put in for the 2nd half.

      • mom4
        July 21, 2012

        1-0 now. Didn’t see if they put in your GK.

        • July 21, 2012

          Yes, he started the 2nd half. Hasn’t had to do anything yet. Liverpool is…not good, and right now they are basically playing a bunch of TFC academy players. 😆

          • mom4
            July 21, 2012

            1-1 sorry! Liverpool does look horrible. Either that or I’m horribly spoiled by watching Barca.

      • mom4
        July 21, 2012

        Oh, can’t read…the keeper they put in, duh.

  3. barca96
    July 22, 2012

    LUKE!!! I’ve been asking around for you for months. Where have you been?
    Can’t remember what Kxevin said last time. You were busy with Law? Or was it Linda?

    ps. Haven’t read yet. Just saw that it’s Luke.

    • nzm
      July 22, 2012

      I’m getting the feeling that Alexis is made of glass.

    • July 22, 2012

      Alexis is such a diver! I’m surprised he didn’t start waving an imaginary yellow card. 😉

      • July 22, 2012

        Anyway the players have the weekend off so this is old. If Alexis is injured we would know about it by now.

        • July 22, 2012

          Hence the “almost broke.” I can’t say how I’d feel after taking a set of cleats to my foot. Probably not good. Didn’t look like a dive to me.

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