Sep 14, 2023, 07:50 AM ET
Barcelona’s financial woes continued on Thursday as LaLiga slashed their spending cap by almost €400 million ($429m) for the new season, from €649m to €270m.
Real Madrid once again have the highest limit in LaLiga for the 2023-24 campaign at €727m, while Atletico Madrid’s is also slightly higher than Barca’s at €296m.
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Sevilla (€168m) and Villarreal (€143m) complete the top five, with Deportivo Alaves (€31m) operating with the league’s lowest cap.
The limit is roughly determined by the difference between a team’s revenue minus non-sporting outgoings and debt repayments.
The final figure accounts for the maximum amount clubs should spend on wages, bonuses and amortisation payments on transfers across a season, not how much they are necessarily spending. Clubs that breach their limit are subject to spending restrictions.
Barca’s drop, in part, is due to the decreasing affect of the “palancas” — assets sold off by the club last summer to improve their short-term finances — and was widely expected.
The money from one of those asset sales — for Barca Studios, which has since been rebranded as Barca Vision — from 2022 was not actually paid and led to the club re-selling it earlier this summer.
Once again, though, the money did not arrive before the end of the transfer window and forced president Joan Laporta and his board of directors to put up a guarantee of €20m to be able to register all the club’s summer business with LaLiga.
Barcelona spent just €3.5m in the summer, on Girona midfielder Oriol Romeu, alongside other arrivals Ilkay Gundogan, Iñigo Martinez, Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo. Alex Caparros/Getty Images
The club’s revenue for the current season will also be hit by a temporary move to the Olympic Stadium in the city as work is undertaken to redevelop Spotify Camp Nou.
Aware that cutbacks would be needed before Thursday’s limits were revealed, Barça spent just €3.5m in the summer, on Girona midfielder Oriol Romeu, with Ilkay Gündogan and Iñigo Martínez arriving as free agents and João Félix and João Cancelo on season-long loans.
Meanwhile, in attempt to balance the books, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, two of the biggest earners at the club, left. Elsewhere, Ousmane Dembélé and Franck Kessié brought in transfer fees for their moves to Paris Saint-Germain and Al-Ahli respectively.
Abde Ezzalzouli, Samuel Umtiti and Nico Gonzalez were among the other players to leave on a permanent basis, while Ansu Fati, Clément Lenglet and Sergiño Dest were among a handful of squad members sent out on loan.
A source at the Catalan club told ESPN the summer business has helped them reduce annual sporting costs from over €560m to closer to €400m.
However, as they are still over their league-imposed cap — which also includes spending on other teams, such as the B team, the women’s team and the basketball side — they remain subject to certain restrictions if they want to invest in the squad when the transfer window opens again in January.
They are only allowed to spend a percentage of what they save in salaries or raise in transfer fees, with the percentage varying depending on how big the saving is.
For the current season — and to encourage spending given the problems faced by many Spanish clubs in the transfer market — clubs over their limit can spend 50% of any savings they make and 60% if the saving made on a departing player accounts for more than 5% of their spending limit.
“We can’t say, it depends on what Barcelona do, on their business strategy,” LaLiga president Javier Tebas said. “We can monitor the situation. Maybe they do something, they sell one of the great players they have now and take a huge step… They could do that or not. It depends on the strategy of the club and its executives, we don’t decide that.”