FC Barcelona is a complete mess right now, although you probably already know that, right?
Barça’s financial problems have been a regular part of the news and sports headlines for 18 months now and there have been a ridiculous amount of twists in the story.
If you have struggled to keep up, we do not blame you. Fortunately, 90 minutes is here to help. Below we have compiled a timeline that describes all the major off-field events that have occurred at the Camp Nou in recent times.
Barcelona have had some fantastic times before / Alex Caparros / Getty Images
Barcelona’s financial problems are self-inflicted. In recent years, they have lost some ridiculous transfer fees and handed out large contracts with little regard for the consequences.
There are too many mistakes to mention, but spending over £ 100 million on professional Fortnite player Ousmane Dembele and spraying a similar fee on perennial underachiever Philippe Coutinho were particularly poorly rated moves.
However, the real key factor in creating the crisis has been Barcelona’s laissez faire attitude towards player salaries. In addition to the deals the aforementioned recruits wrote, the eye contracts they offered to Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Lionel Messi and even some fringe players have been paralyzing.
Barcelona was hit hard by the pandemic / Eric Alonso / Getty Images
Although Barcelona was terribly run before March 2020, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic took their problems to the top.
Not only did it remove their port receipts, it also stopped the city’s football tourism industry.
In the immediate aftermath of the pandemic, the gambling staff were quick to agree on a temporary pay cut of 70%. They even promised to give up more of their income if needed.
Messi was among a group of players that Barcelona hoped to agree on salary cuts with / David Ramos / Getty Images
After a harmonious start, the relationship between the board and the players broke during the summer.
With Europe emerging from the first wave of the pandemic and La Liga starting again, the first wage reduction agreement expired. The then president Josep Maria Bartomeu tried to push through another pay cut – but it was firmly rejected by the players.
This started a summer where the board tried to negotiate wage cuts and failed for the most part.
Arthur’s transfer was a modern phenomenon / Quality Sports Images / Getty Images
As wage cuts did not bear fruit, Barcelona had to find other ways to crush its economy.
The summer transfer window 2020 was an excellent example where Nelson Semedo, Rafinha and Ivan Rakitic were all released. Luis Suarez was also sold to Atletico Madrid – a move that made Los Rojiblancos the La Liga winner. Nice, guys.
The most special deal of all, however, involved Arthur Melo and Miralem Pjanic. The mechanics of the agreement are too complex to be discussed in detail here. All you really need to know is that the only reason the change took place is that both clubs could come into contact with their financial problems for another 12 months.
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4⃣ Renewal! ✍
✅ @ 3gerardpique ✅ @ mterstegen1 ✅ @clement_lenglet ✅ @ DeJongFrenkie21
ℹ All details! ▶ ️ https://t.co/4h8bwbhscO pic.twitter.com/94upzGMhTQ
– FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) October 20, 2020
When the 2020/21 season started, the majority of Barcelona’s players remained stubborn against all pay cuts.
When Frenkie de Jong, Clement Lenglet, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Gerard Pique covertly signed new contracts that included salary cuts, their teammates became furious.
However, this was far from the end of the story, though.
After not agreeing on similar deals with senior players, the very mean Bartomeu announced his resignation. It was the perfect example of “jumping before you hit”.
We were in the area with ‘cracked brand graphics’, but our image bank has no such / Visionhaus / Getty Images
Although Barcelona’s situation had been troubling for some time, there was always a belief that a club of their size could find a way out of its predicament.
That belief began to change in October 2020 when the first reports emerged claiming that Barça was facing a real threat of bankruptcy if the situation was not rectified.
Remember that this came after some pay rises had already been announced and Bartomeu had resigned.
Barçagate added a more unfortunate twist to the story / PAU BARRENA / Getty Images
A few months after announcing his resignation, Bartomeu was arrested in a police operation that the media ingeniously created “Barçagate”.
The ongoing investigation is about accusations that the former president paid a PR company to diminish the reputation of high Barcelona players on social media. Yes seriously.
Police are investigating whether Bartomeu paid an inflated price for the service, which would constitute improper handling – a crime in Spain.
Laporta won with a landslide / LLUIS GENE / Getty Images
Joan Laporta was elected President of Barcelona in March 2021. Driving on a platform of hope and ambition, he easily beat the race from Victor Font to secure his second term.
How long would the optimism be? We think you know the answer.
Barcelona was among the architects of the Super League / Visionhaus / Getty Images
Ah, we barely knew the Super League. Last night, 12 elite clubs announced that they were forming a breakaway competition that would have changed (destroyed) European football forever.
The plans included guaranteed income for the founding member so Barcelona was exaggerated as a result.
They remained together in the bunker together with Juventus and Real Madrid until the end, even when the other rebel clubs have quickly backed down.
It was a PR nightmare for Barcelona and worst of all, the plans that went through only aggravated their financial situation.
Aguero is among the players that Barcelona signed this summer / Soccrates Images / Getty Images
Every normal club in this awful position may have used this summer’s transfer window to cut their cloth further. However, Barcelona is not a normal club.
Instead, they offered lucrative contracts to Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia. They also wanted Georginio Wijnaldum – just so that Paris Saint-Germain would blow them out of the water at eleven o’clock.
The only issue was that these new signings could not be registered because Barcelona could not prove that they had the means to complete the season without financial collapse. Smooth.
Messi was devastated to leave / PAU BARRENA / Getty Images
In the midst of this set of new signings, Barcelona continued to insist that a contract for Lionel Messi – whose contract expired at the end of the season – was only a formality.
As it turned out, it was a lie and a fucking on it.
In early August, Barça were forced to announce that a new contract was not possible, with Messi begging a greedy goodbye to the club he joined as a boy.
With the dust still, he ran to the French capital to join PSG.
Bartomeu refuses to take responsibility for the club’s mess / Quality Sport Images / Getty Images
The reaction to Messi’s departure was catastrophic. It highlighted Barcelona’s global crisis and it did not take long before politics began.
The deposed Bartomeu set things in motion and explained his version of events in a screaming letter. He tried to absolve himself of the debt and even claim that the club’s current situation was better than when he took over in 2010.
Barcelona put their problems off the field behind them and beat Real Sociedad / Nicolò Campo / Getty Images
Back on the pitch, Barcelona had days left from the start of the 2021/22 season and had not yet registered their summer signings.
Gerard Pique stepped forward, saving the club’s skin by agreeing to a pay rise. This freed up enough space on the payroll for Depay and Garcia to be added to the squad. Exactly how is still clear. However, Aguero remains unregistered.
Ironically, the hero of the hour in Barça’s opening day against Real Sociedad opened the scoring by nodding home Depay’s free kick.
.I want to urge all Barça fans and the whole club to unite … With football and unity, I am convinced that this era will be full of success. ❞
– President @JoanLaportaFCB pic.twitter.com/5gx4egVX71
– FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) 16 August 2021
On August 16, Laporta held an explosive press conference where he reported on the entire club’s crisis.
He spent most of his time rubbing Bartomeu’s letters as “full of lies” but also made several incredible acknowledgments about Barça’s finances.
Laporta explained that the club has a debt of 1.35 billion euros and has a net worth of 451 million euros. In addition, the club has spent 102% of its total income on player salaries.
He ended the press conference by insisting that he had a cunning plan to rectify the situation. He probably has a magic money tree in his garden.