The Payroll

The recent contract negotiations with Alves are the first major test for the new management. A ‘star’ player is asking for a significant raise and is threatening to take his talents elsewhere if the demands are not met. In most places, such stunt usually yields the desired effect for the player.

But not here. Not this time. Because the man tasked with leading the negotiations on behalf of the management, the bad guys, is no one other than Señor Rosell. The man who can often be seen pacing the Camp Nou hallways with the book titled ‘Austerity’ under his armpit. The front cover is facing out in case an uninformed employee has any doubts about what this man stands for. A stern look on his face, he appears very determined to curb down the spending. There will be no bending over he says. The ‘salary structure’ needs to be fully honored. I, for one, am supportive of this cost cutting initiative.

The said contract negotiations seemingly had divided fans in two camps. One believes the team will be just fine if Alves decides to leave and think the salary offered by the management is an appropriate one. Meanwhile, the other group is already preparing for the imminent decline. It is all but assured, they believe, that the teams are going to beat us into the ground if Alves is not there at RB. If only the management is not so stingy.

Exaggeration and personal preferences need to be cast aside. A rational fan needs to look at the economic situation The Club is in and the possible side effects ‘bending over’ for Alves might have in terms of future salary demands. Such fan will then acknowledge the alternatives available at the RB position. It seems many are overlooking the fact that there is a player named Adriano in our squad. Comfortable with using both feet, equally fast and more sturdy than Alves, he has seen his playing time go up as of late. Granted, the sample size might be too small to draw any meaningful conclusions from but note an interesting detail. Adriano, unlike Alves, has more balls recovered than lost.

Regardless of what happens, I would like to point out the obvious:

  • No individual should be greater than a proven-to-be-successful system
  • What Alves is giving to this team is not worth the ‘Xavi and Iniesta’, the No.2 and No.3 The Best Player in the World, kind of money (€6-7M). One Mr. Cruyff is in agreement with such valuation.
  • Pep can always adjust the formation to accommodate the loss. For an an example, a more mobile, faster and with better dribbling ability midfielder at RM (instead of Xavi) to support improving Adriano.


Salaries expense for 09/10 season was a whopping €263M. The figure consists of €235.2M (sports) and €27.7M (staff). People familiar with the matter put bonuses at around €40M. That would leave base salaries at somewhere between €160 (assuming bonuses were 25% of the base salary) and €190M (the amount that is left after the bonuses are withdrawn from the salaries – sports account). Bare in mind, such salary expense is for the ‘small group’ Pep prefers to work with. One is left to marvel about all the jaw-dropping that would ensue if Pep opted out to go with what has been the standard roster size across Europe’s top leagues (for the clubs of similar stature).

This is the Yankees’ kind of payroll we are talking about here. An ‘establishment’ team from a big City (market). Something Barça is not and it never was. The payroll needs to get more in line. There is only one ‘superstar’ (Messi) and possibly two (Villa, Pique) players on that roster that are widely popular and marketable (a Jeter and Rodriguez equivalent). Not nearly enough to warrant the expenditure.

Players earn the base salary and bonuses based on team and individual performance. As mentioned above, the bonuses were estimated at 25%. While I do not question the justification of rewarding the players for the (over)achievement, it only makes sense to devise a way to offset this cost increase.

The same way there is a bonus clause in players’ contract, there has to be one included in the contract with the party acquiring the media rights. That means the said party needs to adjust the fee according to team’s most recent accomplishments. The way it is now, the broadcasters are getting more people (larger viewership) tuning in to Barca’s games to sell ads to…at no additional cost.

Ticket prices have to go up too. The demand is simply too large to be ignored. More about this some other time.

As for salaries in general, an important metric to look at is the Wages-to-Turnover ratio. That number was 68% in 2010. The same ratio for 04-09 period averages out at 59%. With revenue at the present level, that would translate to €34.86M in savings last year.

For the sake of comparison, Arsenal and Manchester United had an even lower Wages-to-Turnover ratio at 46% and 44%. With the salary structured like that and the revenue The Club generated last year, the potential savings would be €84.7M and €92.4M respectively. A sizeable difference.

Pay Structure

Not so long ago, I had proposed lowering the base salary for the players ‘over 30’ (the category is not exact and depends on the position) regardless of their popularity and past contribution. Before I expand on this, let me stress that these are the players who up to this point had 4-6 years of high salaries. They had already earned enough money for a comfortable life and then some more.

Now, the center piece of the pay structure should be that only players worth huge money are the ones with an extraordinary skill set and in their prime. ‘The prime’ meaning somewhere in the 23-29 age group. Everybody else is going to play for ‘change’ and a shot at glory. A roster spot at The Best Club in the World carries significant weight.

A senior player ‘past his prime’ has diminishing physical condition. ‘Wear and tear’ is increasing the risk of injury every week goes by.

Such player is:

a. going to get hurt and spend significant time off-field recovering (the older the player and the thicker his medical record is the longer the recovery is going to be)

b. Pep is going to leave him on the bench not to aggravate the lingering issue (ex. Xavi’s Achilles’ problem) and ‘save him’ for games that are carrying more significance

In the case of Xavi and Puyol, expect to see them even less next season because of the upcoming Euro 2012. Somewhat buckling under ‘pressure’ from the Federation and out of the appreciation for their careers, Pep is likely to do what he can to make sure these guys are healthy enough to try to win the Trophy back-to-back. A potential historic feat for Spanish football. On a side note, that is where a player like Fabregas, acquired at a reasonable price, comes into play.

Either way, the time spent on the field for players like these two is likely to go down. It would then be unwise to award them a high base salary. The Club is not an upscale retirement community rich in activities and those interested in getting paid handsomely after they had reached the point of diminishing returns should go to Qatar and the leagues of similar stature. A more likely destination for the individuals whom to money is worth more than trophies, professional development and genuine camaraderie.

Notice how the initial medical report stated that Puyol will be out for an unknown time period. ‘Unknown’ being the key word. Asked for a clarification, Dr. Cugat said: “Puyol’s injury can be solved in a week, in two, or it can be longer.” Granted the specific nature of the injury but the level of uncertainty about the recovery period is significantly higher with senior players.

While the base salary needs to be trimmed down, bonuses should remain tied up to the level of contribution. That way if the team wins the Competition, their effort is going to be recognized.

In general, senior players need to recognize what their alternatives are, significance of winning trophies at that stage of their respective careers and how much had playing for The Best Club in the World had done for their image up to this point. I applaud Eric Abidal for his attitude in regards to the contract extension, quote: “I don’t want more money, I want more years, until 2015.” This at the moment when he is in a form as good as ‘we’ have ever seen him play. It then becomes hard to explain why is Puyol being paid significantly more.

The players brought up through La Massia should have an additional gratitude for the belief, resources and the value system The Club had placed allowing them to become not only World Class players but exceptional human beings. In that context, I would like to see Xavi, Puyol and the likes step up sometime soon and announce that they are initiating a pay cut themselves because they recognize ‘the situation Club is in’ and that ‘it is not all about money’ anyhow. The way of thinking that should be drilled into kids at La Massia from the early on.

As for the younger players, they should be awarded a modest base pay (a la Busquets) until they prove their maturity and value to the squad. In essence, they would have an incentive to work hard and give their very best for a 2 year period in order to get a shot at signing that huge ‘secure the family’ contract majority of the players are striving for. If such a young player starts thinking about leaving FCB for more playing time elsewhere, he should look no further than at Javier Mascherano, The Captain of the Argentine National Team. When asked about the limited playing time he has been seeing, El Jefecito was brusque: “If you join a team like Barcelona, you can’t expect to start every game. I play my minutes and work hard to get more.”

The current pay structure looks like this (due to scarce information the numbers are an approximation of what has been thrown around in the press):

L1 Messi (€12M)

L2 Iniesta, Xavi and Villa (€6-7M)

L3 Pique, Puyol, Valdes, Busquets (€4-4.5M)

I propose to bring Messi under €10M. It is the only logical thing to do now that Zlatan and that pesky agent of his are out of the picture. Xavi and Villa should get demoted to Level III with Xavi scheduled for an additional 20-30% pay-cut this time next year. Puyol is demoted as well and there is a possible 10-20% pay cut for Valdes. He does posses an above average ball handling skills but is still only a goalkeeper.

The more appropriate pay structure would be:

L1 Messi (under €10M)

L2 Iniesta (€6M)

L3 Pique, Busquets, Villa, Valdes, Xavi (scheduled for a pay-cut soon), Alves (€4M)

We are looking at €8-10M in instant savings. The lower base drags down bonuses creating additional savings in the process.

Salaries – Staff

It is hard to tell how much of this figure (€27.7M) goes to the top management. But what better way to make the point across than by a personal example. Sandrusco and his team should commit themselves to work for a symbolic $1/year and keep the executive benefits to the minimum. If The Club was a publicly traded company, it would be appropriate to award them some stock as a part of the compensation.

The amount of publicity an individual receives while serving as a Board member at The Club is intangible. When entering the politics, ‘El Presi’ had a great deal of recognition with the voters. The same amount it took some other candidates a great deal of time and money.


To add an insult to the injury,  the amortization comes at €71.2M (Note 15.3). Out of that amount, a whopping 70.3% went for the players that are not even on the roster. Namely, Toure, Hleb, Caceres, Henrique, Keirrison, Ibrahimovic, and Txigrinskyi. That is more than €50M for the players who are not contributing at all.

I’ve seen heroin addicts manage their money better. This is just horrible. It would be easy to assign the blame to Laporta but the truth is Pep and Txiki were heavily involved in the process. All three should be equally embarrassed.

Looking at the bigger picture, there has to be a continuation. A long-term vision on how this team is supposed to look like in years to come. A clear strategy that would have priority over personal differences and daily politics. It is mind boggling to have such a huge amortization expense for non-performing players. It can’t be allowed to have one president commit close to €90M (transfer fees alone) on two players only to see them being cut from the roster less than a year after.

In conclusion, the austerity measures need to be implemented for 3-5 years while continuing to generate the revenue of €400M+. I want The Club to dominate both on and off the field.

Tom_Johnson is studying finance at an US institution.


  1. Apparently, some people on ESPNSoccernet are asking about Cesc in their transfer liveblog…

    10:14 Jon Carter:
    Lots of people asking about Cesc to Barcelona… not quite sure why.
    Monday January 31, 2011 10:14 Jon Carter

    10:14[Comment From Gilgamesh Gilgamesh : ]
    Cesc4 to Barcelona; could today be the day?
    Monday January 31, 2011 10:14 Gilgamesh

    10:15 Jon Carter:
    Barcelona will certainly bid for Cesc, but not now. Expect a summer offer of £35 million, but why would Arsenal sell him now? He has signed a very long contract..

  2. Will read it later, don’t have enough time now.

    Just wanted to inform you that, according to Marca and AS, Iniesta is doubtful for Almería (who cares?) and Atlético (I care!).
    If he’s not 100% fit by Saturday, I opt for resting Iniesta and giving Afellay his chance as a starter.

  3. This is a great article Tom, It brings up several sensible-at least from an outsiders perspective- points. I especially like the suggestion that TV companies should pay extra when we play out of the this world football and win everything.

    I believe steep monetary incentives are unnecessary with this group of players, coach, and winning culture. Unlike in the financial sector, I would like to think an extra million is not the reason Xavi plays through pain in order to win Liga.

    And why should we pay Villa anymore than what we gets at Valencia. He should be grateful for a spot on our starting eleven; for the exposure(advert money) and chance to actually win something. I really dislike our attitude towards new players- Why should Ibra get more than Iniesta and Xavi even before he had proved anything.

    Footballers get paid far too much and people are right to be annoyed by their attitudes. Pep has done well to instill an autotelic mentality thus far, and we should take advantage of this peak by expanding this to contracts. Then players from outside will know what kind of attitude to expect inside the club. If they don’t like it they can stay away.

    1. I cannot imagine how a scenario like this would ever take place.

      Asking anyone to take a pay cut is an insult, but to ask one of the top players in the world? It boggles my mind. Just because you could afford to take a 10-20% pay cut, doesn’t mean that it won’t piss you off or make you bitter.

      Now, I can understand the notion that aging players with declining performance should get a lower salary and certainly I think there is room to renegotiate in those circumstances. But Xavi? Balon d’or finalist? The idea that someone should be paid less just because they have hit a certain age threshold is asinine. Instead, the way to avoid having huge salaries for players past their prime to not sign them to such long contracts. No person would accept a salary reduction just because they have reached a certain age when their performance has not yet declined,

      By the way, those salary numbers don’t make sense. At 160M, that is 8M per player far more than it should be based on the salaries listed above. Are the Barca B players pulling that number up?

    2. More me its less about age but what you bring to the team. Even a Villa playing at full potential does add as much to the team as Xavi and Iniesta. Is he paid that amount because he is our new star player. Even Villa would admit that hes one of many stars at Barca. Also a player like Ibra came to Barca without having ,proved anything yet and gets paid more than Xavi and Iniesta. To me thats more like an insult to Xavi and Iniesta.

    3. Ibra was the highest paid player in the world at inter.If theres a player you can sign from a big club for half of what hes on id like to see him.From 14 to less than 7 is too big a gap for any player to agree to.

    4. Very simply, sports isn’t just a financial thing. It’s not JUST a business. The place it holds in our hearts was a reason why we were so angry about the shirt sponsorship, even though it brought in money, for one thing. And telling a player, a legend like Xavi to take a pay cut because as an asset he is less valuable at this age, like a depreciating piece of equipment- no. No way.

      For the future, starting off with lesser salaries in contracts we sign from now on, yeah sure. In a decade or so down the line that will be replacing contracts and whatever with smaller expenditure in our new signings, promotions and new contract renewals. The pay cut after 30, for players like Puyol and Xavi, nope. Gotta disagree.

    5. If we did that, I’d feel like we had lost our soul, that we had become just a business. Becoming stronger off the pitch isn’t just making more revenue. It’s what we stand for. ‘Standing off the pitch’ is many many things, of which only one thing is financial standing.

    6. No, it would be worse than a business because no business would do that. Cutting the salary of your star performers is insane. They would either leave or want to leave. Neither is good for the performance of the company. I’m not so convinced that Barca’s salaries are so far out of line with the rest of the soccer world that Xavi, for instance, couldn’t easily find employment at 7M/year.

    7. I don’t mean cutting the salaries across the board, but telling players hitting their thirties, like Xavi, Puyol and Abidal- three of our most loyal, and even at this age three of our best players who have done so much for the club- that now that they are ageing and not as valuable an asset, they should take less.

      It would be insulting, for one. And also soulless on the side of a club. We’re not a factory, to replace a piece of equipment that has suffered wear and tear. There’s a reason why we don’t ask a player to pay the medical bills if he injures himself dropping a bottle of aftershave on his foot, or stop paying wages as long as he’s out, for example. There’s a reason why we don’t look at every young player we have (cough Bojan cough) in the first team or B team where there is a better choice on the market and replace them. There’s a reason why we wouldn’t sell our players to EE if they make an offer big enough. Why we stand behind or beside our old players even. Why we pay respects to ex-players who do not bring in anything currently to the club. It’s cos, like most other football clubs, we aren’t simply a business. We mean something to the fans and players and people- there’s a reason why Messi would rather retire than go to EE, why we celebrated the Manita for days, why we cried with Pep when he won his sixth trophy in 2009, why we felt bitter and humiliated after Busquets’ peek in the CL semi as much as we did with being knocked out, if not more (I remember Kevin’s post-match review). It means something. And to treat our players like that would devalue it, somehow. ‘The Club is above all else’ one might say, but we do not just love the registered entity known as FC Barcelona, to be happy regardless of what the execs do because it continues being the registered entity FC Barcelona, we stay fans but we expect more and we value it more than just that.

      And we’d expect the club to not treat our older players like ageing racehorses or worn-out machines when they reach a certain age. They’d expect it. And I would be sorely disappointed if we told Xavi or Puyol that sorry, you’re old and now that your Achilles tendon/muscles/whatever is vulnerable you’re not as valuable to us as you were a couple years ago, so take a pay cut.

    8. Exactly m8..!! This sort of writing and counter argument is what makes me love this blog 🙂

    9. “And why should we pay Villa anymore than what we gets at Valencia. He should be grateful for a spot on our starting eleven”

      Because Villa is a top class player, because he has great skills (yes, even when Kxevin disagrees) and he really has arguments for that. He was Spain’s top scorer at both the Euro and the World Cup. He has a high score rate in La Liga.

      Things like that are not achieved by “just anyone”.

    This is great! We indeed do have our own rambler! I don’t have much to add really…
    Hector knew a lot about finances, but this… 😯

    BTW, I think Xavi (and Iniesta) currently earn more towards €8m/year. Xavi renewed his contract in 08-09 where he agreed to get paid a little less than Henry, who was in the €8 – 8.5m range.

    PS: I haven’t read it, go back to the earlier post and read my comment!!
    I got Hectored. I mean really Hectored, since I had written a long-ish comment. 🙁

  5. Not to start a monologue but when is Hinda Lui going to post? Her blog is very good! This has become so much awesomer in the last few days…

  6. I’m also looking forward to seeing Linda’s (hehe Eklavya its not Hinda Lui, its Linda Hui) posts, her blog wad really good.

    Tom I agree with many of your points, but I don’t see how comments like these: ‘divided fans in two camps. One believes the team will be just fine if Alves decides to leave and think the salary offered by the management is an appropriate one. Meanwhile, the other group is already preparing for the imminent decline. It is all but assured, they believe, that the teams are going to beat us into the ground if Alves is not there at RB. If only the management is not so stingy’-
    Are good practice here. Simply put, its just presenting the two sides of an argument in a way that states one in a logical sounding way, while over-exaggerating the other to make it sound sillier, and in my opinion sort of ‘cheating’ in an argument, cos people do it a lot.

    Especially in football arguments. It’s like- let me choose clubs from outside La Liga to avoid any bias- a Man United fan saying ‘we are a great club and we do bring up good youth’ and an Arsenal fan going ‘ooh, look at all the Man United fans going on about how their club is a paragon of virtue and the best in the world and how half their team is youth and they make so much money and are amazing in every way- oh yeah right, they’re in debt and is Anderson or Rooney or Nani youth products?’. Or outside of football, a statement like ‘on one hand we have people saying everyone deserves healthcare because nobody should be denied based on pre-existing conditions, on the other hand we have people saying oh no its okay if people die because they’re denied healthcare just cos oh no money is more important and so what if people die cos a little program will make the entire country bankrupt and we will have to beg for money and speak Chinese’ (not saying merits of the argument or that one side is better than the other on that debate, just pointing out how people supposedly ‘present both sides’ but actually aren’t when they argue points by deprecating the other sides’ points). Stuff like that.

    We see arguments like this a lot. They take away from what might otherwise be a good point cos its just setting up an argument in a wrong way, and I have to say I find that not very professional and not very awesome. The people who said pay Alves were not saying ‘ooh noes, if we sell him everyone else will hammer us, we will run into the ground, yada yada’. They were making a rather valid point that you didn’t agree with, which is that the club would lose a lot in a sporting sense if Alves left, that Adriano isn’t a suitable replacement and that buying another one would be money spent while losing on a sporting front still, that it impacts a team dynamic that is not easy to set up and is a delicate balance and not something where you can just plug in another factor and it’ll keep on running like clockwork, especially when talking about an all-time legendary side when reaching such levels of perfection is so difficult it must inevitably depend on a delicate balance of many factors, from fitness to personnel to lack of injuries to formations to tactics to chemistry to style to so many more. In that sense, they argue, it’s worth more to invest on maintaining a legendary level, a level that teams can spend or work any amount but still need luck and circumstances (our golden generation, aforementioned delicate balance) to reach cos it’s THAT HIGH a standard, one that comes about once every few decades if not less and could thus be considered priceless- if millions or billions or any one method or formula could ensure a ‘best ever’ tag, how many would be trying?- and in that case they feel preserving it is important. All valid points, not something to dismiss with a wave of the hand.

    I agree with you, in that no player is bigger than the club, we need to be financially stable, and so on. But you need to see that the other side also have valid points. They don’t want to risk a potentially epochal, magnificent, legendary, reaching-previously-unimagined-zeniths team cos its so rare- how many clubs in the world have NEVER had a generation like this? How many wish for one in their entire history?- and so on. They say that if we can plop out 50 million for Fabregas we should very well be able to invest in maintaining this unbelievable team. And you know what, all good points there.

    This rant is a bit long, but we’re supposed to be an objective blog. Considering all sides, good arguments, reasoning. Not dismiss an entire point of view in writing. And so even if I agree with you about not ruining the salary structure and if Alves doesn’t realize the non-financial benefits he gets from staying with us, sell for a lot of cash and good luck to him, it’s a hard decision for me. I WILL be furious if we get rid of him and buy Fabregas for mega-money, for example. And I see both sides here.

    1. “I WILL be furious if we get rid of him and buy Fabregas for mega-money, for example”

      That’s my main argument in the Alves thing. If we are going to be all preachy about austerity, financial stability, and wage structure, don’t transfer him and then pay all kinds of money for a midfielder we don’t need yet.

  7. Wow. Tom rocks. Not sure I want Xavi to take a pay cut at this period in time just because of his age though. If performance is still high the salary should remain commensurate with that performance and not be reduced because of some arbitrary age thing.I think part of the problem is not the wages but the wastefullness of recent signings(by which I mean the signings that weren’t of the 10/11 variety). That being said, I’m a chemist(and stay-at-home mom) so I purposefully steared away from any educational options that involved dealing with money because as Winnie the Pooh would say, “they muddle me”.

  8. This in from TotalBarca”

    “Andres Iniesta is almost certain to miss the second leg of the Copa semi-finals against Almeria this Wednesday according to ‘’.
    The player injured his left shoulder when he fell awkwardly under the rash challenge of Hercules’s David Cortes two days ago. He is diagnosed as having a grade 1 acromioclavicular sprain [ED. The acromioclavicular joint is a ligament that joins the collarbone to the shoulder blade]”

    Read more:

    Why wasn’t he taken out of the game when this happened? OUCH!

    1. Hope its not serious, and in that case it’ll be well-deserved rest. However then again Iniesta seems the fittest and freshest of our Trio and if he’s out, it makes it more likely that Xavi and/or Messi will play that game I guess, and they seem to need the rest even more than Iniesta.

      If there’s one thing that worries me now, with EE seven points behind and our form being unbelievable, it’s how Messi looks so tired. He needs rest. Both physical and mental, to regain the focus. The Serious Face, full-on destruction mode focus for the huge games that will come later in on the season.

  9. Excellent analysis. Though i disagree with the theme and the conclusions.

    Players earn their living playing football and these are their prime years. I think like any other employee, they have right to negotiate the best deal for themselves. For a club like Barcelona, players will do adjustments but i do think that as we are the best (and one of richest) clubs in world, players will be expected to paid generously. I also think that most of the players are already on contracts where their money depends on appearances. So though Xavi has contract till whatever date, last two or three years, his pay will depend on number of appearances.

    Asking Messi or Xavi or Villa to reduce their salaries is simply not going to work. Their are already suitors out there who would pay these guys much more salary. The reason why these guys do not go somewhere else is because of what you wrote about the loyalty they have with the club. But if the club tries to short change them, i would think that few of them will leave and i shall have no issues with that.

    On the other hand, management has to try and manage its finances. Only way to do this is to keep on negotiating and trying to find out best possible outcome. With Alves, I do think he is offered good salary but its just that Man City might have offered way more and as a professional, he wants to make money. After all, he did spend quite a few years in Sevilla who are much more stingy payer than we are.

    Overall, i think it is the fine print which hurts. Some times clauses get in which offer spectaculer rewards for success or not enough punishment for failure. Also we have had few costly transfers to carry (especially Ibra) so it is understandable that we will struggle for bit.

    As for Alves leaving, it think it will affect us. I also think that we will find another solution. Right now we have enough cards in hands to still be a best team even if lose one or two players (except Messi, Xavi and Iniesta).

  10. Barça earns almost as much as Madrid and Manchester (around 400 M €/a) and more than any other club. So we should be able to keep up with our rivals.
    As for the individual salaries: players negociate after tax-salaries (and after insurance etcetera), so if a player earns 5 M, the real cost for the club can be the double.

  11. Let’s not forget that Ibra, who was the world’s highest paid footballer, took a pay cut to come to Barca.

  12. Xavi is certainly a better player than Alves. on that we can all agree. but the system with which we’ve had so much success turns more on Dani Alves than it does on Xavi.

    Dani Alves is the reason why we can play “3” at the back, a huge part of our wide play, and is the final layer of threat that overwhelms defenses. is he irreplaceable? maybe not. but he is a unique player and for better or worse Pep’s preferred system is built with Alves in mind (whereas with Xavi, you could hypothetically plug any phenomenal play-maker into that role and the role wouldn’t change much). our current system, almost unique at this level, is constructed around Alves’ running the right flank singlehandedly (which permits us to play, in effect, 3 at the back) more than any other player except perhaps Messi’s take on the false 9. you say that Pep can adjust the system to make up for the loss of Alves, but then suggest that we remove Xavi to do so; surely that undercuts your point about Alves’ indispensability.

    should we bend over backwards to accommodate a player, any player, who’s asking unreasonable things of the club? of course not. but i think we need to be clear just what the implications are to what we’ve been seeing from Barça thus far if an integral part of this team leaves. i don’t think it can be dismissed lightly and i think it would be a huge mistake for Rosell to let Alves go over such a small amount.

    1. Sorry, BA. I couldn’t disagree more.

      Without Xavi we have less good possession – without that, teams have more time on the ball and our defence is under pressure. I’m still not clear what Alves offers beyond a good engine to get up and down the park and pretty good close control at times. He is really fortunate to be playing in our system which makes him look good, imo. He gets to arrive late and very often gets a decent amount of time to decide what to do with the ball – then often makes the wrong decision 🙂 I like Alves but he’s not irreplaceable.

      If he went elsewhere he would also have a lot more defending to do which he wouldn’t enjoy as much. I quite like that he is the one the club are playing hardball with first.

    2. I think my main disagreement with your argument (as I see it) that Alves is more essential than Xavi is that you say we could replace Xavi with “any phenomenal play-maker.” Xavi is not only a phenomenal play-maker, but a phenomenal play-maker with a particular skill-set, and probably style of playing, that allows us to maintain possession. If he can be so easily replaced, then could we not replace Alves with “any phenomenal right-back,” who would then theoretically be able to run the flank in the same way?

  13. Excellent post.

    A few points though.

    Like y2ks256 said, it is great that players are loyal but to now CUT their salary is just not going to work. One might be a loyal employee, but how would you feel if the company to which you are so loyal all of a sudden says “you know what, we’re gonna pay you 20% less”. A football club is not really a company, but still…

    Also, one could easily argue that Xavi is in his prime right now. A football player might typically come into his prime during his mid to late 20s, imo Xavi is playing better than he was when he was 26, 27…

    What has hurt us from my limited understanding was the Ibra deal, which salary wise caused a ripple for Messi to be bumped (and for other players as well?). Btw I didn’t know that Zlatan took a pay-cut, I thought it was the oposite.

    A solution I propose is to give the players good salaries but severly limit the transfer sum available for the next two summers.

    1. actually this is very relevant to the Alves situation. If English clubs pay 35 million pounds (!) for a striker who has had a decent half season, well that says it all, really…

      Ajax must feel really stupid right now, having accepted 26 million euros for Luis Suarez, who I guess is only half the player that Caroll is….

  14. I’m feeling pretty snarky today and I don’t like money posts, so I’m just going to limit my comments to the following:

    You can’t have it both ways, Tom. You can’t expect players to be loyal to the club (for the glory of it and for everything the club has given them) if the club isn’t loyal to them (for winning the trophies and everything they have brought to the club). Doesn’t work.

    I find your idea of slashing players’ salaries at 30 actually morally repugnant. It is lucky for Xavi and Puyol and the other decrepit old has-beens that nothing of the sort is likely to happen.

    Otherwise…off to Carousel with them all!

    1. Judging from this and your reply to one of my earlier comments we feel the same way on this.

  15. wow, what a post.

    “i want our team to dominate on and off the field” is truly a reasonable cause. and i guess our blog here is significantly improving with more finance info (which i have no clue of). anyhow, thanks for this great post.


    Valdes should not receive pay-cut. he is a goalkeeper who fits us best. give us casillas and we would die. I’d say Valdes is even harder to replace than Alves, and could easily be more important than Alves position-wise.

  16. Well usually, first posts are a bit more benign than this one! 😀

    Tom starts off by stomping on the terra, however. Rock!

    What’s interesting is that what he says makes perfect sense from a fiscal standpoint. Salaries are the most effective way to bring a business (yes, we are a business) into fiscal line, once all of the means of cost-cutting are exhausted. Salaries are usually the last resort, precisely because of their psychological effect on the employees.

    The real question here is what is the club willing to do to achieve true austerity? It would seem simple enough to limit the transfer budget for the next few seasons, from 50m to a more manageable number, say 10 or so. Then shop intelligently. But, this means the odds of silver diminish, because we will no longer be able to say “We need a striker, let’s buy Villa for 40m.”

    Arsenal is lauded for holding the line on finances, with Wenger running the club in a way that is fiscally prudent. It’s also a way that seems to correlate with an absence of silver. Success costs money, either in salaries or transfer fees. And one way to get a player to accept an initially low (contextual) salary is to load up on the incentives.

    Problems arise when a club wins everything under the sun, because if you load up every contract with incentives then suddenly, everybody is making a lotta more money and your salary structure is all kerflooey.

    Realistically, we aren’t going to be able to get any player to accede to a pay cut, but we can hold the line on salaries, which RoSELL seems to be doing, starting with Alves. The rest will be interesting.

    It’s also worth noting that La Masia is also an excellent way to keep costs down, particularly if a Montoya eventually replaces an Alves. Much lower salary, and no transfer fee. Milito goes, and Fontas moves up. Same situation. Throw in a few intelligent purchases such as Afellay, and suddenly, the books look a lot better.

    But the time for the club to do something is now.

  17. Great post, Tom. I don’t agree with you on a lot of it, but it’s an important discussion to have.

    I think players, like any other employee, deserve top money if they’re the best in their given field. If Xavi and Puyol are still performing at a ridiculously high level well into their 30s (which I would argue they are, so far), then they deserve to be paid accordingly. As they age, it’s wise to scale down base salary slightly, but offer incentives that, if met, will keep their salary at the same level or even higher.

    As far as salary structure goes, I also think that if we’re going to have a level 2 with Villa, Xavi and Iniesta in it, Alves has to be there as well. It’s not greed or being mercenary – I think Dani has as legitimate a claim to be the best in his ‘position’ (he has, like, 3 really) as the others in this tier. It’s true that no player, even Messi, should ever be more important than the team, but I think we need to recognize that within our wage structure, level 3 isn’t giving Dani his due.

    1. Level 3 for Alves doesn’t make sense because Villa would then be above him. Surely Alves doesn’t the club should value him like Iniesta and Xavi- at least I hope not. But maybe hes thinking if they are paying Villa that much, I am much more important than him.

  18. Tom,

    Great post! Thoughtful, detailed and analytical, with just enough pictures to rest my peepers every couple of paragraphs. Your insights are well-researched, clearly put forth and strongly argued.

    I just wanted to ask your opinion on a few things. There seems to be a much larger ‘Responsibility’ wave washing over Europe right now. In some sense, we might be able to associate Good Times Joanny (“Cava on the house — and me too!”) with late 20th-century fiscal exuberance and Serious Sandro with a early 21-st century fiscal austerity. As you mention, Barcelona is a football club with quasi-political significance, and a football-club executive (if only for his name recognition) has a certain amount of political possibility. Without stressing the sports-politics connection too much, how would you place Sandro’s impetus to cut costs in the greater context of cost-cutting measures throughout Europe?

    Second, you do a great job at itemizing expenditures. And I am confident that Laporta was much more skilled at glad-handing, friend-making and people-influencing than at balancing books (and Sandro, vice-versa). However, it’s hard to gain perspective without knowing what team intakes are. 845 gabillion euros seems astronomical, but if you’re raking in 900 gabillion that’s a tidy profit. How in the red are we? Can I mark it up with my little teacher pen or do we need to line up behind Greece and Ireland at the Deutsche Bundesbank?

    I respectfully disagree with our fellow posters that Rosell and Co. oughtn’t mess with club finances because soccer is more than money or even that Barça is més que un club. Not for Sandro — that’s his job. But fans will always sympathize with players (if not Dani, certainly Messi, and even more so native sons like Xavi and Puyol) over management, simply because we see and follow and ooh and aah over players. Even if lowering salaries were wise, would it be possible for Sandro to do so and still enjoy moral authority among fans (and among these, the socios)?

    Finally — I promise! — how does the Qatar factor fit in here? I keep picturing the beautiful sheika soccer-shopping (“I’d like that shiny World Cup for the etagére, and that blue and red silk jersey for lounging about at home”) with her husband in tow, writing checks. La Liga is attracting other wealthy internationals — like India’s Ali Sayed at Racing. Are we talking chump change (to be scrounged for in those lumpy sofa cushions) or serious cash influx?


    1. I didn’t say Rosell and co shouldn’t mess with club finances, if you were referring to my comment among those. When I said how we are not just a business, it was in disagreeing with the idea of cutting salaries for players after age 30- when I said we aren’t just a business, it was in the sense that while cutting something off when their value begins to depreciate or they suffer wear and tear may be financially the right thing, it would feel repugnant as a club to do that to our older players (now the likes of Puyol, Abidal and Xavi, later Iniesta, Pique, Messi, etc).

  19. Quick sidebar:

    As reported in During Osasuna-Madrid, CRonaldo gets ticked at Pandiani and sneers, ‘And how much do you make?’ to which Pandiani comes back, ‘I don’t know, but I win as many titles as you lately’.

    Oh, SNAP.

    1. Didn’t CRonaldo say something similar to Pedro in the last Clasico? I think it was along the lines of “And who are you?”

    2. Zing!

      Pandiani is a genius. He was also the one who commented that Preciado should complain about Mourinho to the Spanish authorities, after the Manita over Real.

  20. For me this all makes sense and seems logical, but I think in the real world it doesn’t work. Only because, if we want to start cutting salaries of players that, regardless of “superstar” status, have devoted their professional careers to this club we will begin to lose star players. Puyol “almost” left before his last contract extension and I’m sure he could be making more money elsewhere.

    The point I’m trying to make is if we don’t pay large salaries to players and start just fielding people like Adriano at right back, the value of our team will go down. This team is bringing in huge amounts of revenue mainly due to the fact that people all over the world want to pay to sit in the stands to watch it, buy jerseys of the players on this team, pay for exclusive soccer channels from homes all across the world. And why do people do this? Well we have the best team and the best players and the brand of football we advertise is sleek, exciting, and wins silverware.

    If we decide to not pay players large salaries, adhere to pay scale etc. we will begin to lose the players that form the nucleus of this team over time. We will then eventually ( I know this is a horrible slippery slope argument but bear with me) we begin to field an average team with average results. You end up with Arsenal (no offense to Arsenal). A team with a strict no play over 30 policy, an even stricter transfer mindset and as Tom mentioned a paragon of austerity in football finances. But one problem, where’s the silverware? How can you justify raising ticket prices for a team that isn’t winning. Simply put, people aren’t going to pay to watch teams lose. And in Barca people aren’t going to pay to watch teams even win without the style we are known for: constant attacking, high scoring, highly entertaining football.

    I think, unfortunately, the reality of the situation is simple. You wanna win? Then you gotta spend. A lot. If you want the best players, then you’re going to have to pay for their services. A lot. But as a result, if you have a nice product that meets a demand, which obviously Barca does right now, then you have to supply it. Tom mentioned the Yankees in this article, and he’s right they spend a lot. But they also win. I guarantee you, look at every year they have won either the AL championship or the World Series and then look where that team is situated in the MLB in terms of payroll. They will be either at the top or in the top 3 without a doubt.

    note: yes there are many holes to this argument, and someone if they so wish could take their time to pick it apart. But the reality of the situation is we have a good product, that every now and then needs some upgrades. Instead of diluting the quality of the product to ensure austerity, why not figure out ways to diversify the product brings in cash? Open up soci membership to non-catalan people. I would gladly pay 500 dollars for that right. Invest in markets that are growing in interest of european soccer (the U.S. and China). Take BarcaTV to an international level, I would pay 15 bucks a month for it. There are an infinite amount of ways to expand revenue opportunities. I just don’t think the way to get there is by cutting the cord on the heart that pumps blood to this organization and that heart is what happens on the pitch. ugh this is too long why did i spend twenty minutes typing it 😀

  21. Liverpool’s website have confirmed a bid for Andy Caroll for 35 million pounds has been accepted by Newcastle.

    Eighth biggest transfer of all time it will be, apparently. This also makes it pretty sure Torres will be sold I guess, in which case that’ll probably be in the top four or five.

    Also, as Ferdinand tweeted, ‘David Villa cost 34mil tweeps! Integral member of successful Spain team and played regular CL… UK market is crazy right now!’

    A horribly overpriced deal, in my opinion, really. If they were going to sell Torres might as well done what Atletico did when THEY sold Torres and used it wisely, not spend the majority of it on a very overpriced striker when they could have bought top class for much less outside of England and their inflated prices for English players. I’d much rather have taken Lucas Barrios for half that. Or Cavani even, for less than 40 mil euros definitely.

    1. Plus caroll is out for a month lol!
      Actually , liverpool was overall spent 71 million POUNDS this window.
      They ‘ve gone nuts, and they were supposed to be in financial trouble.
      Their owners dont know what the hell theyre doing.
      Why spend that money now that the season is nearing its end and liverpool will most probably not compete for major honors , when you could have spent less in the summer and have provided the coach at the time with a good enough squad to challenge the premiership.
      Afterall its not as if man utd ,arsenal or any other big team have dazzled with their performances.

    2. I just want to straighten out this whole Torres/Carroll shabangalang.

      I’m half English, half Spanish (living in Aus wouldnt ya know), and therefore my loyalties are split. I have a massive love for Barca and have since my first full kit as a baby with Guardiola 4 on the back. Ive been a Liverpool fan since my first red kit as a youngin with McManaman. And Im always proud to say how much I love both clubs.

      The sale of Torres was inevitable, bought for £27m, scored a bucketload of goals and left for nearly double that. Good piece of business. Liverpool had already secured the services of another striker but that would leave them in the same position they were in before, possibly even worse, as they had no proven premier league strikers.

      They didn’t have time to lure any foreign strikers, the likes of Llorente, Aguero, Negredo had been flirted with by other clubs, but they are summer signings, that take weeks or months to culminate, not a couple of hours. Liverpool needed a striker who is young, physical (to compliment Suarez) and has been proven to score goals, so who do they go for?

      Anelka? too old. Drogba? too old and wont move. Rooney? Never. Berbatov? Never. Van Persie? Wouldnt move. Tevez? Wont move to Liverpool. Elmander? Rubbish. Bent? Just moved. Chamakh? Just got to Arsenal. Rodallega? Out of Form. I could go on and on.

      He’s young (22) hes tall (6f3) hes getting international call ups, he is physical, brilliant in the air and can act as the classic centre forward in Alan Shearers image.

      Now I know theres a huge stigma about English football on here, and alot of it rightly so, but this was a signing that needed to be made, the owners had the money so they took the gamble. Only time will tell if it was worth it. And yes it was a massive price tag, but thats the EPL, and its Man City’s fault.

    3. If Carroll is worth 35M pounds, how much is Llorrente worth?

      Very curious deal for Liverpool. Really seems like they were pushed into a corner by Chelsea’s late bid for Torres and over reacted.

      The anger that permeates some parts of their fanbase may have been very jarring for new ownership to see.

      Carrol seems like a move to make a move rather than a well thought out plan. They are going nowhere this season as it is.

    4. No it is official: The world has gone completly bonkers. 35-40 Mio. for ANDY CARROLL, who has achieved what exactly until now? More than for David Villa, a Euro and World Champion???????? Compared to that Ibra for 45 Mio. was a complete bargain. What a pity, I always really like Torres, he seemed like a decent guy, but Chelsea where he has such nice company as Cashley and Englands braveheart JT

    5. Caroll has been in the top flight for 6 months. Thats it!
      Hes a promising striker, but so is bojan krkic , and thats not an overstatement.

    6. LOL I feel bad for laughing at it but that is true.

      I think it was K, someone posted up a song Liverpool fans sang for Torres? It went-

      His armband said he was a red Torres Torres
      But Roman came and turned his head Torres Torres
      He went to a club that gives out flags
      And where the captain shags the slags
      Fernando Torres keep an eye on ya bird!

      I laughed so hard. Say what you may about the English game but their fans occasionally come up with gold.

      Much like Pandiani.

    7. A song which in my head goes to the tune of Kleiner Hai. (Helge, do you know which song I’m talking about?). With the ‘Torres Torres’ corresponding to the ‘ba-dum ba-dum’.

      If any of you people haven’t seen it, do watch it. It’s priceless. I nearly died laughing.

    8. Yes, sounds like a knee-jerk rxn to losing Torres. Has the Torres move been confirmed even? Does this guy walk on water or something ($35 million POUNDS)????

    9. As someone else pointed out the gist of, Oezil + van der Vaart + Javier Hernandez + Khedira = Caroll’s price.

    10. I appear to be the only one who is ignorant of football news so would appreciate it if someone could fill me in.

      -Who are Liverpool’s new owners and are they that rich
      -Who is Carrol? Why is he valued so highly? MOre importantly is he any good?

    11. New England Sports Ventures, as in the guys who own, I think, the Red Sox over in the US.

      Caroll is an English striker for Newcastle. He has scored 11 goals in the first half of the season for a shitty club like Newcastle (sorry, NUFC fans) which is a pretty good return. ‘Traditional English centre-forward’. He is very physically strong, very tall, awesome in the air, and better than one would expect for a big tall header type of striker on the ground. He is nowhere near worth 40 million Euros, but being young and English (he is 21) during a time when the public hates Rooney enough to believe that he sucks as a player because he is awful now and is looking for the next great English hope, he is super uber hyped. Being super hyped, and English, he is super expensive. Gets into trouble quite a bit apparently. Wouldn’t have been a bad buy for 15-20 million or so even I would say, for the EPL. For 40 million, Liverpool are getting insanely ripped off.

  22. Very nice post Tom. Thanks for the detailed look at the salary issues.

    I agree with you that the amortizations are unacceptable. That to me is the real issue with the finances. That’s where the waste has been incurred.

    To me, the first team salaries aren’t excessive given the staggering output the club has produced on the field. The past several years have seen Barca transform from what once was a smaller club to a global brand with related revenue generating power. As long as the TV contracts are structured as they are Barca can continue to invest.

    If the team is generating 400M and the players get 190 in base + bonuses there should be no reason for the club not to be able to thrive unless it is mismanaged. 400M is an enormous stream of revenue, even if it is to some degree spread across all of the clubs activities.

    And from the business point of view – right now Barca has a historic opportunity to grow its fan base and revenues. Having Messi on this team has been and will hopefully continue to be a sea change in how the club can operate on and off the field. IMO they should continue to ensure that they can be as successful as possible and continue to grow their revenue sources while Messi is in his prime.

    The amortizations are ridiculous though and moving forward the club needs to be far more prudent in how they decide to approach the market.

    Finally, the clubs compensation to their executives would be very interesting to look at in more detail. For a finite number of executives to be drawing in what may be well more than 10% of the first team’s total base salary seems out of line to me.

    If the first team base is 160 that would mean the club administrators were drawing around 17% of what the first team players are.

  23. Nice post, Tom.

    I would go into further detail about where I disagree, but I think outerspacedoutM/b> did a great job in the comments section today and made most of the points I wanted to make.

    1. This is almost the exact opposite of the way John Henry has tried to run the Red Sox. At first glance, he’s either getting very bad advice or is out of his league in a very weird, inefficient market place.

    2. I think its as much appeasing the fans as it is sporting reasons.

      It appears Torres wants to go. I think that with the Liverpool debt erased, and the owners having plenty of money, they are able to afford decent signings anyway or afford to keep Torres even. They had said their plan was to buy young talent with an eye on the future.

      But now that Torres submitted a transfer request as in he would be leaving, and lots of cash will be coming in- that’s both very bad for Liverpool’s season, and for how the fans feel. I think this is pretty much to quickly appease the fans and bring some hope for the season, by panic-buying for big money.

      Dunno really. But it doesn’t entirely make sense from a sporting sense of view, unless their valuations of players are way off. 40 mil is insane money for someone like Caroll. For Aguero, a good deal even, a bargain I would say. Caroll, nope.

  24. Reports out of Portugal are saying that David Luiz to Chelsea is done for 21M pounds.

    Luiz is very talented on the ball. But I have questions on his defending and athleticism. That’s an enormous amount of money for a CB.

    Benfica are experts in playing the market. They sell players largely on their terms.

    This winter once again amplifies the value of La Masia. It’s probably they key to Barca’s financial model.

  25. After Newcastle’s game at home to Blackpool, Ian Holloway, Blackpool manager, described Carroll as the best striker in the Premier League.

    Oh, well, there you go! That’s worth 35M right there! 😛

    1. He apparently has a bit of a rep and a record as well. Just what Dalglish needs to deal with as a new manager. Guy was playing down a division for most of his short career. You would think you’d have to prove yourself for a while in the premiere league for longer than half a season for this kind of $. My goodness, can you imagine what Newcastle can do with this windfall? Guess this means Torres is gone (now he’ll always walk alone! :-D)

  26. tactics, finances, complicated transfer deals, the future of the club are all very important topics, but wait a minute….


    why am i just now learning of this!? this is seismic news.

    1. The rumor has been flying around for some time now, but I believe that it is still unconfirmed. It would certainly explain his erratic form this season. Shakira is quite an extraordinary damsel.

      I always figured Pique to be the first one to go Hollywood on us.

    2. To think this time last season the rumors that were flying around were of him and a much taller, Swedish personality.

    3. Waka waka she got a flat in Barcelona.
      This is what you get when you spend your time reading Sid Lowe instead of ‘¡Hola!’

    4. who would have thought all it takes is a World Cup medal and a “FUCK ME I’M FAMOUS” t-shirt?

      i may need some time to seriously rethink my romantic future.

    5. It’s actually a “FUCK ME I’M FAMOUS” cap(!), handed out by a club on Ibiza. Maybe they even give it to everybody, being famous or not 😀

  27. This is a great article. The English football has gone mad.

    That’s all I have to say. (Finance isn’t for me, so I’ll let the masses discuss).

  28. From Soccernet:
    Chris Murphy: To sum up where we are so far, there are four big deals on the cards today, Fernando Torres’ move from Liverpool to Chelsea for a fee of around £50 million is imminent. Andy Carroll is going from Newcastle to Liverpool for £35 million – he has just arrived at their trainaing ground. We understand Charlie Adam is heading for Liverpool to chat about a £10 million move, and David Luiz is heading for Chelsea for £21 million.

    Chris Murphy: DONE DEAL: Confirmation from Blackburn that they have signed Ruben Rochina on a permanent deal from Barcelona.

    1. yeah that’s going to be bad. I think bale is good but I don’t see why we need him at all. Where would he play/ who would he replace? I don’t know if he could adapt to our style.

    2. Marca yesterday said we would be putting in a bid in the summer for 40 million.

      Bale has a lot of potential. He can run past any player on the planet, but he is more of a Real kind of player. Very dangerous on the break.

    3. Bale is not suited for our team.
      I was only bringing this up , since he was overrated before today’s madness.

    4. I wouldn’t pay silly money but why do you say he wouldn’t fit in? It strikes me he can pass, he can certainly run and he has an eye for goal. Not sure about his defensive qualities but as far as revitalising our left side he would seem to provide some answers.

    5. Because he is not a left back , and not a winger in the type that pep wants them to be.
      But i can easily be wrong though!

  29. This huge price inflation could also have an effect on the whole Fabregas-Saga. If Caroll is worth 35-40 Mio. what do you think they want for a proven WC-Champion and Captain of one of the Top 4. I think that might be the end of Rossells dreams.

  30. torres to chelsea official, it’s on liverpool’s official site. no details on amounts yet, but it’s going to be something disgustingly over-inflated. don’t get me wrong i think torres is one of the top strikers in the world, but 50 million? I wonder what this means for the future of anelka and/or drogba, both aging strikers.

  31. This means CL will be a bit more competetive I think. Milan, Inter (and Chelsea a bit) have gotten stronger.
    But then again so have we.

    1. Few if any of those players will have an instant impact.
      All players need an adaptation period.

    2. Don’t kid yourselves. With David Luiz and Torres, Chelsea just got a LOT stronger. Wonder what Drogba is thinking right now, though?

    3. Ah yes, Luiz, I’d forgotten about him. Him and Terry and Ivanovich makes a good defense. Plus now Torres.
      But I don’t see Chelsea any better than Inter or Milan at the moment. CL favorites order goes like this IMO (not being arrogant by playing Barca first):

      Barca > Inter, Milan and Chelsea > Bayern and ManU

      -I agree with Kari. Anelka is idiot.

  32. —Well, it’s official. Torres isn’t going to win anything anytime soon. Chelsea is in decline IMO, but I guess he didn’t have anywhere else he could go. Just glad he ain’t coming here. Phew!

    –Rochina’s gone to Blackburn. Ramzi is crying a river over in Sweden 😛

  33. Isn’t it just the very last minute clubs can spend a cartload of money without regard to debts before the new economic fair play regulations take place?

  34. It’s’ not often you can say it – but it looks like Man City made a very good deal getting Edzin Dzeko.

    They got him for the same transfer fee as LFC got Carroll. Hard to believe.

    If I were Bilbao, my price for Llorente will have gone up quite a bit.

    Agree with the thoughts above on the CL. It became more competitive once Leonardo took over and Rafa left. But Chelsea will likely be much improved. Their backline has been dreadful since the injuries at the back. Though he was expensive, Luiz will help a great deal. And they were looking very stale up front. Torres is going to be very hungry. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s able to hold up physically push Chelsea back up a rung.

    At least this squashes any Torres to Barca talks this coming summer. Roman has been after Torres for years and now he’s finally gotten him.

    It’ll also be interesting to see how Drogba and Torres work together. Anelka’s tendency and natural style was to drop deep. Torres and Drogba are going to have to work to not occupy the same space.

    1. apparently Tottenham made a 30million euro bid for Llorente and they rejected it. It can only go north from there I think. EE will be all over him this summer I bet.

    1. If you sort by “Newest comments”, you can’t miss it. It’s gigantic 😀

      Anyway, I can’t respond to them now, but I’ll probably have a boatload of EE hate to deal with…

    2. You seem to be handling it very well kari !
      Although you are basing your whole case on a done and dusted situation.
      Pellegrini is gone , mourinho is their coach.
      Their huge problem, even if few will accept it, is that the sole objective of hiring him was to win trophies ,forgetting about the playstyle, and do it NOW.
      So what they need right now, is contradicting with what the coach is supposed to be offering and what was asked for.

    3. Much of your comment is a copy-paste of what Euler wrote, so if that generates idiotic comments then I’ll just feel sad for you. 🙁
      Sometimes I also wish Euler would go there and explain a bit to them 🙂

      Although, the first dude that to you replied made pretty good points.

    4. Hey! A large part of that comment was my own words! 😀 I only used Euler’s writing for the tactical part because he explains it more eloquently than I ever could.

      @mei, “So what they need right now, is contradicting with what the coach is supposed to be offering and what was asked for.” Yeah, I know what. I was just trying to point out the hypocrisy among some EE fans and prompt a well-meaning discussion, since Bassam’s been giving me some support 😉

    5. I already read your comment 3hours ago, well said. And I do agree.

      Back then, nobody had replied to it, but now I see some very poor reactions, I would simply ignore people like Griffinrory.
      Then there are people like Muna: You’ll never agree with him, cuz he is a true Madridista and you just criticized their hoped for saviour Mourinho. 🙂

      Time will tell if Muna’s right with respect to the need of a coach like Mourinho for Real Madrid. He’s talking about revolution and new managers should follow Mourinho’s way – but I don’t see the presidents, general directors etc. giving away their power (or parts of it) to a coach that easily.
      I’d rather say Madrid needs a new club structure, beginning with the upper echelon.

    6. Girl, you did a good job. I lurked for a while over there. There a couple of very reasonable posters but I’m glad to be back here.

  35. A little late but I think Tom makes good arguments, well thought out and researched opinions but as many have mentioned a major point is missed. The human aspect, the psychological part where you play better than before try your hardest and the club tells you they have to cut your salary. I don’t need to bring out the classical motivation theories out to say that salary drop will cause dissatisfaction.

    Whats needed is reasonable, sensible austerity (no big bucks on Cesc, no huge payrises) while trying to increase market reach and sales with innovative measures. Are we really getting the most out of one the greatest teams ever in financial terms.

    Raising prices for seats is the least creative way of increasing revenue and comes in the same category as getting a shirt sponsor from a beer company.

    “Ticket prices have to go up too. The demand is simply too large to be ignored. More about this some other time.”
    Completely disagree on this.

  36. Good post.

    190 million including bonuses…that is the price you pay for having top 5 players for every position.

    Plus 09/10 is a bad year to look at salaries because it includes bonuses for winning CL. The winning team in CL gets 35 million euros. So, bonuses paid for.

    Messi earns the club much more that 12 million euros a year.

    If anything, Xavi is reaping the rewards for staying with the club while it was paying outrageous salaries to players like Deco. About 6 years ago, Man Utd were looking at Xavi and probably would have bumped his salary up quite a bit.

    You can’t put a price on loyalty.

    The club has a turnover of 400 million. Why shouldn’t most of that go to the players who are bringing fame to the club.

    Stop spending ridiculous money on transfers and the debt can be payed of in 5-6 years. Its amortization that costs the club big every year. A player like Messi costs far less over his career than Fabregas would. Stop buying players like Ibra, Chigrinsky, etc.


  37. Sorry but, how can I say this best….well I can’t in just word.

    a) you are comparing apples with oranges. Barcelona is not ManUtd or Arsenal. Barca as a club is forced, obliged and everything else NOT to make/run profit, except if they have to pay debts or anything else that is beyond them or what not. Since Barca is owned by its members and its shareholder value if you like is about winning titles, whatever money the club makes has to be invested in the club. So it’s entirely possible for Barca to run a bigger wage bill than say ManU or Arsenal because unlike those 2 clubs, they don’t have to make any profit, they just need to make sure not to make a loss of 100 Million Euros in one year.

    b) None of us really knows what Alves is asking for. We only have speculations going on. So to use hearsay as any basis for anything just doesn’t work.

    c) No offense, anyone who even tries to imply Adriano is anywhere near as good as Alves, should just get slapped in the face. Seriously…and you can bring up anything you like.

    d) Now this takes me back to point a). Barca’s responsibility as a club is to have success and win trophies without running bankrupt. I don’t see Barca running bankrupt for now for various reasons that include assets, turnover and everything else. Plus we have the Qatar deal, the TV deal(and even if Mediapro goes bust, we get another one) and in the end, as bad as it sounds, one of these Catalan banks would bail us out. However, we’re still not that unreasonable in the financial part. We manage to spend what we have, as we’re supposed to do. further, in football money correlates with success and success with money. You want 5-6 seasons of austerity, fine. Just don’t expect it to work. You want to pay Messi 9 Million Euros a year(for what reason exactly?). Fine, but why? You think cutting 10-20 Million Euros a year in player wages will help a club with 400 Million Euros of turnover, (2.5-5%), go ahead. But, here’s the thing, you are not realizing that in the end Barca is not just a club, but a social and cultural entity, somewhere between a sovereign and an NPO, and not just a football club. So, all these numbers you add up and everything you come up with is fascinating but, sorry to say, absolutely irrelevant with regards to Barca, as the club runs different and is different than what you suggest. So, I’m really sorry to say this but this just isn’t it.

    1. oh yeah, ticket prices. Sorry, have you even been to a game?? Just wondering! Do you know how about the average wage in Spain, average wage of a football fan, the current ticket prices where the cheapest is 29 Euros for a game against Almeria in the 3rd rank of the stadium and everything else? And you want to raise ticket prices? And you know about the recession in Spain, the fact that already the stadium is hardly ever sold out and would be less so with higher prices and depending on how you also raise season tickets it would in the end probably just make sure black market flourishes? Swell idea mate! No, I’m really sorry, this just doesn’t work.

    2. Sometimes lowering ticket prices is the way to increase revenue. When Arthur Blank purchased the Atlanta Falcons, an American Football team, at the beginning of the 2000s, he lowered the ticket prices on the upper level seats. Attendance surged to all time highs and in the end revenues were greater.

      (See — search for “lower ticket prices” to find the pertinent information.)

      There is an ideal spot on the supply and demand curve when it comes to ticket prices, and that spot definitely responds to economic conditions. I believe that adjusting to ticker prices to maximize attendance is the most important step. You need to fill the upper decks as well as the lower levels and the boxes. Consistently.

      Tom Johnson (or anyone who is motivated): if you have time and access to the data, it would be nice to see an analysis of Camp Nou ticket prices and sales. And not just direct sales from tickets, but also how sales of food and merchandise in the stadium are a function of attendance and ticket prices.

      We focus on TV rights, but revenue generated at the stadium must still be important. At least,I believe so (until someone shows me data saying otherwise).

    3. to give you a better example of what we’re not: Bayern Munich is famous for having a huge bank account, lots of money in the bank, blabla. But, Bayern Munich is more or less a joint-stock company(not lited though) and hence was able and allowed and everything else to run for years huge surpluses(nevermind that they are the only club in Germany of some real power and everything else).

      Barca wouldn’t have been allowed to do that at any point ever.

      Similar issue with other clubs that are plcs and what not. Again, nice post, but it would have been more factual had you talked about Arsenal, Olympique Lyon or whatever than Barca.

    4. You make several good points , cesc blanc.
      Its not a great idea to generalize while talking economics, but I will make an exception here.

      If we decide to view fcbarcelona as a business solely, which it isnt as cesc says, we would be talking about a well known brand , that provides a top product and has staff that produces it of elite quality.
      When your product is on the global business, your parameters cannot be driven by local factors, however strong these may be. An elite stuff member will require a very good salary; not necessarily equal to what somebody gets paid somewhere else, though close enough to remain competitive.
      Its correct saying that cutting down on staff salary is the safest bet to reduce overall costs .
      But its also quite obvious that youll never cut down on staff or its salaries if your product stays at the top tier , because you will bring it down with the wages.
      Your non safe, but proven way to tackle the deficits is to expand. Thats how every empire was created and sustained overtime, taking risks not keeping their head low until a bigger shark got their share of the market.

      Barcelona , isnt supposed to make profits. Profits are taxed.
      whenever profits emerge they should be invested , and having a loan which you can finance is healthy for tax purposes.
      Also Barcelona cant raise their ticket prices.
      They shouldnt.
      Not just because of the principle of it , or because there is (definitely) crisis in spain , but they dont even fill the stadium in every much of the league.
      Something like 80% is what actually gets filled and thats the average on a good day.
      Overall I would say thats a good insight into the financial situation of the club , but I dont really agree with the conclusions. We arent meant to agree anyway so who cares 😛

  38. Heh, “tots som el Barca” eh? Considering the rules to membership that Rosell has implemented, I don’t think “we all are Barca” is the most accurate motto anymore.

    In any case, I’m really glad we have avoided the winter transfer circus by spending wisely in Ibi. It’ll be interesting to see how Liverpool and Chelsea play with their new attackers. Torres and Drogba seem a bit too similar to really play off each other, imo.

  39. Now it’s official. Torres for 58.5m € on a 5 1/2 year deal to Chelsea.
    David Luiz also joining them.

    Chelsea might be a contender for the CL title now, and Liverpool will still struggle (with Carroll and Suarez) to reach the Europa League qualification 😀

    btw, anybody thinks English clubs are on a buying spree because of the financial fair play rules that will become operative soon?

    1. Of course thats the reason , helge.
      For both the numerous offers some clubs made like spurs and liverpool , plus for the ridiculous prices they paid to acquire these players.
      However , this year is also supposed to be “taken into account” before that principle is applied.

      You make a fair point though , for something else as well:
      English clubs are moving fast in this window to spend their funds, before being prohibited to do so, while :
      There doesnt seem some kind of a well thought plan behind this motion.Chelsea needed a defender , but they are not exactly short in striker quantity for example.
      Thats why I m saying that spending much at this point , is far from quarantee improvement , apart from the problems new players might bring with them.
      Lets see how this plays out.

  40. This is a great discussion that you have started here, Tom Johnson. I disagree with some of your points, as succinctly and eloquently laid out by previous commenters, but I am glad that this kind of discussion is happening.

    I would be interested in you views on how your ideas fit into the upcoming UEFA fair play rules. Are there other issues that will need to be dealt with due to this attempt by UEFA to reign in spending?

    Beyond austerity, at some point I believe that Barca and the other big teams will need to deal with questions of balance in the league. We are beginning to look like the Scottish league, in terms of dominance by two powerhouse teams. Though I am not convinced that this is a necessarily structural and long term situation, I do worry, since I do not want to see La Liga function like the Scottish league. So any thoughts on financial parity? The imposition of NFL style rules on contracts and revenue? Since you have a background in finance, Tom, I hope these are some of the discussions you are hoping to have here at the Barcelona Football Blog.

  41. Just wondering what effect people think the TV rights-negotiations (or lack thereof?) will have on the financial stability of the club. Do you think there will be a change? That there *should* be one? If Barca does lose that money, how much of an impact will it have?

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