Tuesday’s soccer news starts with Barcelona trying to figure out a workable budget. The club’s president Joan Laporta told media members that the debt is at $1.6 billion and that they’re spending 106% of income on salaries. Considering how much money is required to operate successfully in the transfer market, it’s easy to see why Barcelona is in so much financial trouble.
What may not be as easy is generating significant sympathy for the plight of a super club. Barca’s situation has been brewing since last season when La Liga’s financial regulations began to become an issue. Credit Barcelona management for speaking openly about the problem. In the wake of Lionel Messi’s exit and the additional information now made public about how they spent, Barcelona is increasingly turning into an outlier.
The simple fact that they couldn’t get a deal done to keep Messi pushes this into unique territory. Their current situation with trying to register players and get their payroll under control is more a matter of scale. Still, looking at Barcelona as an example to bring other clubs in line with their spending may already be a reach. Every league in Europe already has an example of a club that overspent. It may not be a club with the reach of Barcelona, but it’s happened often enough that it doesn’t resonate as clearly.
Meanwhile, according to The Times’ Martyn Zeigler UEFA is considering a cap plus luxury tax in their next redo of Financial Fair Play regulations. Imposing that on teams in Europe takes on a broader role with the Europa Conference League. That’s an additional tranch of clubs that would have to follow UEFA’s rules. It’s a fundamental change to how clubs do business across Europe, and it’s certainly worth wondering why that didn’t happen a long time ago.
Part of that is the super club influence on European soccer, especially with the various revamps of the Champions League. That say is not what it was in the wake of The Super League, though underestimating the influence of the power clubs is always going to be a mistake. It’s easy to criticize UEFA for grandstanding over the quick collapse of The Super League. Not so much if they’ll eventually use that moment to impose strict salary controls.
Barcelona’s situation and PSG having no issues adding Messi’s contract could be the moment for clubs lining up behind meaningful limits. La Liga’s rules staying as they were is an indicator that the time might already be here for stopping clubs from overspending in the pursuit of trophies and the additional revenue that generates. What that means for competitive balance in a new version of European club soccer is the next question.
Reuters also covered Joan Laporta’s press conference. The Guardian’s Paul MacInnes reports on the nine Super League clubs back in the European Club Association. The Telegraph’s Sam Wallace on Arsenal’s situation after an opening day loss. Sky Sports’ Nick Wright with how Manchester United should deploy Paul Pogba. The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio works through what’s happened with Inter Miami.
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Logo courtesy of Barcelona