Lionel Messi will not sign a new contract with Barcelona – reasons and who is to blame


Leaving announcement Messi from Barcelona came as a shock. Even taking into account the fact that he has been a free agent for a month. Even though he wanted to leave last summer, but he couldn’t. Even taking into account the fact that the financial situation of Barcelona is really critical. Regardless, stories like his with Barcelona must end differently.

Barcelona are in a critical situation. Messi's contract isn't the only problem.
Barcelona are in a critical situation. Messi’s contract isn’t the only problem.

There is a lot of talk now that the club found itself in such a situation because of the policies of Josep Bartomeu. This is a commonplace: everyone knows who is to blame. The man who paid € 400 million for Coutinho, Griezmann and Dembele and agreed to pay the three more than € 70 million a year. This is certainly true: Bartomeu’s rule was a disaster, especially after Neymar’s departure. But the fact is that the current situation cannot be attributed solely to his incompetence.

La Liga President Javier Tebas is very concerned that the clubs do not exceed their financial capacity. Living within one’s means, he says, is a guarantee that clubs will survive during a difficult period. And it’s hard to disagree with him. In general, his goal – to protect not only super clubs, but all participants in the football process in Spain – is respectable. But there is one inconsistency between words and actions.

You can save clubs from going bankrupt by preventing them from spending too much. But the restrictions that are in effect now solve some other problems.

Consider Barcelona. According to the auditing company Deloitte, the club’s income decreased by € 125 million in the 2019/2020 season (from € 840 million to € 715 million), and according to the results of the last season, according to preliminary estimates, it will collapse by another € 300 million. at the conference on Messi’s departure, Joan Laporta said that now, after all the losses, the club’s payroll is 110% of annual income. His words do not quite agree with the official figures (they get closer to 90%), but he stressed that the real situation is different from what was in the reports.

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This is truly a disaster.

Where will Messi go now? There are several options
Where will Messi go now? There are several options

But even in a disaster situation, Barcelona still have about € 400 million in annual income. And her current crisis earnings are still higher than the pre-crisis at Atlético, and about the same as at Juventus in pre-crisis times.

Moreover, Barcelona can always get funds from sources that are not available to clubs like Celta and Villarreal. Bank Goldman Sachs gave the Catalans a loan of € 100 million and is ready to give even more, because this club is a world famous brand.

Finally, another source of income has appeared quite recently – and has not even been fully agreed with the club. La Liga sold 10% of the league rights to the British investment fund CVC. The deal amounted to € 2.7 billion, most of the money goes to the clubs, and Barcelona should receive € 270 million directly, according to the Madrid newspaper Marca.

Attention, question. Isn’t all this enough to keep Messi from paying a salary?

The problem is in the La Liga regulations, which deal with budget spending on transfers and salaries.

The amount that the club can spend is limited – this is the salary ceiling, which is calculated based on income. Before the 2020/2021 season, the leadership of La Liga sharply cut it due to the pandemic. The total limit on the payroll of clubs decreased by 20% – but not evenly, but differently for everyone. For example, for Barcelona, ​​the reduction was about 50%. And now Spanish sources write that the new cut for the next season will again be around 50%. Yes, this is also important to clarify: the Spanish local FFP does not act after the fact, but in advance. In other words, Barcelona within literally a year faced the need to cut salaries in half twice. From € 670 million to about € 170 million. But this is impossible.

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Not only does the task look impossible. To declare a new player (regardless of his salary), according to the regulations, you must first shorten the list. Moreover, the ratio should not be one to one (reduced by a million – we can pay a million), but one to five.

Yes, the salaries under Bartomeu were inflated and insane, they dragged the club down, and the overall situation was unhealthy. And yes, the pandemic has brought down the club’s fragile economy. But the new salary limit can hardly be called healthy either: it is excessive and goes beyond the market. And beyond the possible – too.

Barcelona got rid of Bartomeu. Everyone is happy. What's next?
Barcelona got rid of Bartomeu. Everyone is happy. What’s next?

Moreover, a generous investment fund deal also has limitations. Of the € 270 million, Barcelona, ​​if it does receive this money (the club considers the deal itself illegal), will be able to spend only 15% on salaries and transfers. This is also a strange restriction, because it turns out that La Liga sold part of the rights to the clubs’ income, but at the same time prohibits the clubs themselves from spending the money received from the transaction at their own discretion.

All these details can be tiresome, but they were necessary to illustrate one point. La Liga’s concern for club survival is taking on strange forms. And the ways to achieve this beautiful goal do not look adequate and are more reminiscent of excessive control, moreover, divorced from reality.

If, under the new rules, Barcelona can spend as much on salaries as Valencia, it is no surprise that the club is failing. He shouldn’t. For all the problems of the Catalans, in this case, it is not about them, but about the rules that need to be fitted.

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Now the idea is being promoted in the media that Messi’s departure is an attempt to put pressure on La Liga in order to soften the rules. Although Tebas has already said that there is nothing he can do to help Barcelona, ​​the situation is not irreversible as long as Messi remains a free agent.

Messi has officially left Barcelona. How did it happen?
Messi has officially left Barcelona. How did it happen?

If so, then this move, while ethically controversial, looks reasonable. The league must have a stake in ensuring that clubs survive the tough times, but it must also have a stake in staying competitive and retaining the best players.

If Laporta did not play the game when he said at a press conference that he did not want to give false hope to the fans and that Messi’s return was out of the question, then we will have to admit that the history of Messi and Barcelona ended shamefully – primarily for La Liga. A legendary story that was cut short in mid-sentence due to the inadequate rules of officials. Surviving a crisis is, of course, great. But it’s a little weird when you have to give up the best player in your history to survive. I wonder exactly how this will help.

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