F.C. Barcelona, the first and only sports team to pass $1 billion in annual revenue, may be in the midst of a financial crisis.
The pandemic is in part to blame for looming costs, but the team also has the highest salary bill in Europe. Its roster includes soccer star Lionel Messi, who signed a contract for almost $675 million. His deal expires in June and he’s reportedly looking to switch teams.
“There are only a few clubs in the world capable of meeting Messi’s salary and his ambition, and none were eager to pay a premium for a player they might be able to get for free this summer,” said Jordi Moix, Barcelona’s former vice president for economic affairs.
Barcelona recorded a loss of $117 million in 2020, and expects the total amount lost due to the pandemic to top $600 million. The club revised its forecast revenue for next year down $250 million.
“Clearly a lack of leadership, the leadership of the board being afraid to say no, is one of the key things that needs to be avoided going forward,” said Victor Font, a candidate for the club’s next president.
Barcelona’s previous president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the club’s entire board of directors resigned in October 2020. Bartomeu had been the subject of mounting criticism for his handling of the club.