Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Abyss

With much of the World Cup sapping my interest in futbol, I've taken a bit of a breather. A bunch of stuff has been happening at FCB, some transfers, new contracts signed, enormous amounts of money lost and still no Cesc.

Let's start at the bottom, because that's where we are folks, or at least I hope we are. An audit of the clubs accounts, carried out by Deloitte has uncovered a €77.1 million loss for the 2009/10 season. Yes, that's right, the most recent one. The one where they won La Liga and made it to the Champions League semi-finals. That one. I can scarcely comprehend how the club finds itself in this position. Their debt currently stands at €442 (!) million. No wonder the club have been talking up the youth team of late, they're going to be playing for the first team soon when more players are sold just to keep the lights on. Titi has already made a brand new start of it in Old New York and it seems very likely that he'll be joined by Rafa Marquez, who's looking at signing a four year deal with the 'bulls.

Joining them by the door marked 'Exit' is Brasilian defender Henrique who's being loaned out (yet again) to Racing Santander. Interestingly though, he was named in a very experimental Brasil squad today by their new coach, Mano Menezes. Good for him eh?

So is there any positive news from the edge of the abyss? Well there has been some. Pep Guardiola has signed a contract extension meaning he'll remain on the bench for at least another year. Let's hope he doesn't mind getting paid in magic beans or replica shirts.

Also signing on the dotted line was Andreu Fontas, extending until 2012. In the lead up to this, Fontas had agreed terms with West Ham but the club persuaded him to stay. I like what I've seen of him at Barça Atletic/ B and with Marquez and Chygy leaving I would hope he'll at least play some Copa Del Rey games this coming season.

So what else? Txiki Begiristain has been replaced as Technical Secretary by Zubi. One of the finest golkeepers ever to play for Barça, winning four Liga titles in a row with the 'Dream Team' (in addition to two at Bilbao), Zubizarreta played over three-hundred times for the blaugrana. He'll be joined by another ex-player, Guillermo Amor, who will act as Technical Director of the youth set-up. Txiki meanwhile, is apparently wanted by Chelsea, well so says Sport anyway.

Finally, Adriano. No not that one. Former Sevilla defender Adriano Correia has arrived on a four year deal from the Andalucian club. An excellent player, who will likely feature on the left side of defense, he's been pretty consistent at Sevilla these past six seasons and a good addition to the squad, which, while not quite at Portsmouth levels, is still only twenty-two players and is likely to get smaller.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

"Cash Rules Everything Around Me, C.R.E.A.M. get the money, dolla' dolla' bill y'all"

What the fuck is going on at FC Barcelona? It's like they've had the KLF round to set fire to any bundles of cash they might have. A €150 million loan has been taken out to pay players and other members of staff, who have not received their salaries for the month of June. Rosell has been quick to assert that the club is "not bankrupt" and that the membership need not worry. Of course, why would we? The club, having just had it's most successful two year period in it's history, can't pay it's staff. They're selling players (Chygrynskiy) at a huge loss just to get the cash flow going again (though quite honestly getting €15 million for Chygry after the season he's had is something of a coup). They have a bunch of players who they can't shift (Hleb, Henrique, and Cacares) and who are on massive wages. It's like Nunez is in charge again.

It's most definitely time to worry. Chief among the concerns is Mediapro. Having filed for bankruptcy some weeks ago, the prospect of them fulfilling their television deal with FCB (worth some €150 million per season) would seem slim indeed. More disturbingly, Rosell made pains to point out that the club, unlike oh Real Madrid, Barça only had a "verbal guarantee of payment" which is basically no guarantee at all "verbal contract mate, not worth the paper it's written on..."

Rosell has also said that the membership fee will not increase but quite honestly, even if it were to double it wouldn't come close to making a dent in the clubs troubled finances.

So what now? Real questions have to be asked of the previous administration as to how the club has found itself in this situation. The season before last, when Barça won La Liga, the Copa Del Rey and the Champions League, profits were only €8.8 million, which seems absolutely ridiculous. Where has the money gone? I know there's been a significant investment in players and that contracts have been renegotiated and improved for the top tier (Messi, Xavi, Pique, Iniesta, Valdes) but still, players on big wages have been sold (Eto'o, Ronaldinho, Deco) and the squad is small compared to sides like Inter, Real or Chelsea. You gotta wonder. Bad times ahead I fear. And no Cesc on the horizon either.