FC Barcelona has raised a further €100mn by selling a stake in its audiovisual studio, as it races to comply with Spanish football league financial rules before it can register new players for the coming season.
The club said on Friday it had agreed to sell a 24.5 per cent holding in Barca Studios to Orpheus Media, taking the income it has generated from asset sales this summer above €700mn.
It sold a separate 24.5 per cent stake in the studio business to crypto platform Socios earlier this month, and took in about €530mn in exchange for 25 per cent of its La Liga broadcast rights in a deal with US investment group Sixth Street.
The asset sales are part of a sweeping overhaul of Barcelona’s finances under its president Joan Laporta. Last summer the club had more than €1.3bn of debt, according to Laporta, and it booked a loss of almost €500mn for the previous season. Players were forced to take pay cuts and defer wages, while Lionel Messi — the club’s biggest star — had to leave to comply with La Liga rules on salary limits.
Although income from the recent asset sales has helped repair the club’s balance sheet, much of the money has been committed to new players. Barcelona has already spent more than €150mn on signings this summer — more than any other club in Europe — with five new faces brought in so far.
Yet none of those players had been registered with La Liga yet due to its financial regulations. The league sets an annual budget for each club for its playing staff based on its income and costs, which can block teams from new signings until the books are balanced.
Barcelona and the league have been at odds over how to calculate the amount of revenue generated by the various asset sales. La Liga recently told the club it would need to raise further cash in order to register players, according to a person familiar with the details.
Friday’s deal should help pave the way for Barcelona to register some of its new players ahead of the first game of the season on Saturday evening. Aside from the five new signings, two players already at the club have signed new contracts and will also need to be registered again with La Liga.
Orpheus Media, which bought the stake in Barca Studios, is controlled by Jaume Roures, a Spanish media executive and co-founder of Mediapro.
Mediapro hit the headlines in 2020 when it abandoned its TV rights deal with the French football league, plunging Ligue 1 teams into financial chaos. The company missed payments during the first few months of the pandemic and sought court protection from creditors.