FOOTBALL: More than 110,000 members (‘socios‘) of Crisis-stricken FC Barcelona can indicate whether they wish to make use of the option to vote by post. This option is available from 29th January until 9th February. These will be the first postal elections in the history of the club. Due to the COVID pandemic, those that have requested to vote via the state post offices (Correos), can then do so from Spain and Andorra from 15th – 26th February. On March 7, between 9 am and 9 pm, the ballot boxes will open in specificed places throughout Cataluña for those who did not vote by mail.
The newly elected president will be given a clear task: to make FC Barcelona financially healthy again. The years of opulence in which record amounts were carelessly spent on player transfers appear to be over. In recent years, Barcelona has had to pay more attention to expenditure. However, due to COVID and the resulting loss of income from ticket sales and merchandise, the situation is critical. It is estimated that the closure of the stadium site (Camp Nou, ‘our pitch’), which includes the museum and many shops, alone will cause damage of 300 million euros during the 2020-2021 season.
In addition to the current situation, the policy pursued under Chairman Bartomeu, who resigned in October, also plays a role in the overall financial crisis. From summer 2016, a total of EUR 1,014 billion was spent on some very new expensive players. These include Griezmann, Dembélé and Coutinho, each with a transfer fee of more than 100 million euros, that have barely paid off. Due to the lavish spending habits and the consequences of the COVID pandemic, club debts have increased significantly over the past year. The total debt now stands at 1.17 billion euros. In the coming year, a total of 300 million euros must be cut. Of all football clubs in Europe, crisis-stricken FC Barcelona spends the most on salaries. Following recent negotiations with the players, 172 million cuts have been made in player salaries for next year.
Furthermore, aside from to the usual task of winning awards, the priority for the newly elected chairman will be to make FC Barcelona financially healthy again.