Xavi, during a Barcelona training session this preseason. ALEJANDRO GARCÍA (EFE)
The line-up that Barcelona will present this Saturday in its league debut against Rayo Vallecano at the Camp Nou (9:00 p.m.) depends on both Xavi Hernández and the Professional Football League. The call will be in any case in line with the investment of 158 million that the club has made in signings such as Lewandowski. The Polish player will lead the Barça attack after the club announced yesterday the sale of 24.5% of Barça Studios to Orpheus Media. A contribution of 100 million sufficient to request the registration of the incorporated Lewandowski, Koundé, Raphinha, Kessié and Christensen as well as the renewed Dembélé and Sergi Roberto. All were discharged by the body chaired by Javier Tebas with the exception of Koundé. “We have time until tomorrow [por hoy]. Although we may not get 100% of those requested, we are optimistic”, Xavi had warned.
The news was received with joy at the Camp Nou. There was the fear of having to play with the same squad that closed last year without a title and therefore without any of the reinforcements that have starred in the preseason and that hooked the public in the Gamper. Not only was the image of the team at stake, but also the prestige of the club and, by extension, the Barça brand. Not being able to have any of the reinforcements that have been presumed so much due to lack of records would have been a mockery for FC Barcelona. Jame Roures, founding partner of Mediapro, came to the rescue, the same businessman who also at the last minute already completed the guarantee of close to 30 million so that Laporta could be invested as president of Barça on March 21.
“I don’t know what Barça will lack to register all the players. What I do know is that this investment of 100 million is enough to see the team we want to see tomorrow”, argued Roures at SER. “Barça is strong enough to save itself; it’s a magnet. The rest of us are companions at certain times”, he added when asked about his contribution through the Orpheus Media company. “We come from a shitty scenario. Bartomeu and company have left a terrible inheritance, and that cannot be fixed in a moment”, Roures finished. Barcelona needs to sell assets, activate levers – a euphemism used by president Joan Laporta – to redirect a critical economic situation that is summed up in a debt of 1,300 million and losses of 480 million.
The fourth lever, the one that will allow the registration of the signings, refers to the sale of 24.5% of Barça Studios, the club’s audiovisual production company —it is dedicated to audiovisual content projects for the different departments of the entity from the networks social to marketing—, to Orpheus Media, a company managed by Roures. The agreement is complemented by the one signed on July 29 —the third lever— with Socios.com —to which another 24.5% of Barça Studios was transferred for an additional 100 million— “and will serve to accelerate the growth of the strategy digital, NFT and Web.3 of the Club”, informed Barça in a statement.
two different partners
Both operations, which make up the total of 49% of Barça Studios, are complemented by two previous ones: one, considered the first lever, occurred in June when it closed the sale of 10% of its television rights to the investment group Sixth Street for the next 25 years in exchange for 207.5 million, a transfer that allowed the last financial year 2020-2021 to close positively. And, three weeks later, the second lever came when he gave another 15% for 320 million to the same company and for the same period. The agreement allowed him to redirect the patrimonial situation (he had his own funds in red) and strengthen the box to continue his extensive activity in the transfer market for the 2022-2023 academic year.
Unlike the first two, in the following two levers it has sought two different partners: Socios.com and Orpheus Media after failing to reach an agreement with the GDA Luma fund, owned by Gabriel de Alba, owner of Cirque du Soleil.
The agreement with Roures caused misgivings in some media due to a possible conflict of interest given the businessman’s relationship with the League —the audiovisual group Mediapro produces the matches, operates the package of bars and has the international marketing rights—, an extreme that both parties ruled out after being already examined when Roures endorsed Laporta. The president of Barça maintains serious differences with Tebas since he distanced himself from the global agreement of the League with the CVC fund in the same line as Madrid —both clubs are committed to the European Super League—. Laporta chose to seek new financing channels such as that of Sixth Street, which is a partner of Madrid.
“We need 600 million to get back to normality and we are going to get it sooner than expected,” Laporta announced at the assembly of delegates, who have approved the different requests from its president, also the fifth lever or sale of 49.9% of Barça Licensing Merchandising (BLM) —the commercialization of Barça products— and whose activation is expected for next season to face a chapter of expenses that could amount to 920 million euros.
The priority now is to cut or defer the income of the players and, in particular, draft Piqué’s new contract, which would help complete the list of players registered in the League. The fact is that the signing of the center-back could facilitate the ownership of Koundé in exchange for his substitution in the expected premiere against Rayo.
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