specials | 2015-03-31
Fourteen to Zero - Part Four
The the truth about the transfer ban and Camp Nou reform questions
Sandro Rosell and the current board of directors have caused incalculable damage to Futbol Club Barcelona. This is the claim of many worried fans after a trophyless season and a long period of institutional instability. In this special series, you will find a well crafted timeline of the events that led our club to the current troubled times the club is going through.
Rosell leads Barcelona to the Spanish courts and a €100 million threat awaits.
February 20th, 2014 - 115 years of History tarnished at the courts
For the first time in its 115 years of its glorious history, Barcelona was named as a suspect in a tax fraud case. The Spanish fiscal authorities were looking into alleged financial crimes committed in 2011 (€10 million) and 2013 from the contracts related to Neymar’s signing, the one Rosell made by himself and had assured it had cost only €57 million.
The Prosecutor considered that our club had failed to pay over €9 million in taxes by not declaring all the contracts involved in the transfer. “There is a whole series of contracts that show signs of simulation, as well as financial engineering operations”. It was reported these contracts may involve an alleged fraud of a quantity “that far exceeds the €120.000 limit for tax evasion set in the penal code”. A quantity of unpaid taxes in a year over that limit leads to a criminal charge. Sandro Rosell’s signatures were included in all of the contracts. But not only his.
7 out of the 10 contracts the prosecutor referred to were signed by the current President, Josep Maria Bartomeu. The prosecution believed that part of the transfer fee didn't include the tax settlement of €37.9 million, which suggested evasion of €9.1 million on the club's part. Four days later Barcelona paid the fiscal authorities €13.5 million for possible “interpretative divergences” about the applicable fiscal law. Bartomeu made sure to state “the club acted with absolute correctness”, and that they “WOULD DO EVERYTHING THE EXACT SAME WAY AGAIN”.
Rosell dared the Judge to pursue the case against us. Then the judge complied, he resigned as President. Now his successor, after paying €13.5 million in taxes, was saying he would do it all again. Showing disrespect for the club members, fans and authorities.
March 20th, 2014 - Daniel Cana was fired for criticising the board
“March 20th was my first day as a FC Barcelona employee, as Online Project Manager, in the ticketing area. First day: I sign my contract, introductions, full of meetings and getting to know people and projects. Excited. Happy.
Second day: after a meeting and being asked to attend another one the next week and to have my medical exams, I receive a call from Human Resources. They have several pages printed with my tweets being critical towards Rosell and the current board. Tweets from January and previous months.
Human Resources sent an email introducing me to the whole club, but the company CM, hired to track social networks associated my named and started to search. This company emailed the report to the club’s General Director and they decided to fire me for “not being approved on the trial period”. But that wasn’t all:
It was all written before... I was fired on my second day after leaving home and a job in Madrid.
The tweets had no social, economic, sporting or commercial objective. I’m not a threat, nor a spy or a “black hand”. I was only disagreeing and being in pain for a club that is a huge part in my life, including this experience that had been my biggest professional goal.
They fire a Computer Scientist with 15 years of experience in E-Commerce, which I suppose was why they hired me, and not for “communication” matters.
But I’ve been a club member for more years than many board members, years of being a Barcelona fan in Madrid, years waiting to be a season ticket holder.
I have never been fired from any company, Barcelona was the first one. Very painful and expensive”.
Daniel is a great person and writer. You can find him on Twitter.
April 3rd, 2014 - After waiting for 13 months, FIFA decided to punish Barcelona
The way the FIFA case is dealt with on this piece has nothing to do with views on the laws regarding the signing of foreign players under 18 years of age. La Masia is the best youth academy on Earth, Barcelona aren't child traffickers and the laws enforced by FIFA needs to be updated. The key issue is that the regulations exist to be followed and Barcelona had 13 months to act after the first warning was issued. Nothing was done.
Barcelona could have contested the law and create a dialogue with other European clubs to debate it, but did nothing. This isn’t FIFA being authoritarian or siding with Real Madrid: it was our club and the people that manage it being irresponsible. Again.
Sandro Rosell, then President, and Josep Maria Bartomeu, then Sporting Vice-President, were warned by FIFA that FC Barcelona were breaching laws regarding the signing of foreign U18 players in January 2013. Rosell’s response was, and I quote: “Don’t worry about it, I’ll settle that by myself”.
Nothing was done.
April 3rd, 2014, FIFA punished Barcelona. Forbidden from registering players in the upcoming summer and winter transfer windows. And here's what Bartomeu had to say about that: “There’s a Black Hand behind our current legal issues (Neymar and now FIFA, cause he surely didn’t even remember the MCM case). The club will act with all its strength to find and make public if there’s a person or people that desires to damage the club”.
Not only did Bartomeu decide to use the “Black Hand" (Real Madrid) excuse. He also tried to put the blame on FIFA and, in our next match on April 5th, a gigantic banner was displayed at the Camp Nou: “La Masia is Untouchable”. Cheap propaganda from one of the main responsible for the embargo.
On April 23rd, FIFA suspended the punishment to analyse the club’s appeal. Barcelona were allowed to register players on the summer window. €170 million were spent. After all, the embargo had been suspended, not revoked.
On August 20th, FIFA judged Barcelona's appeal and it was upheld. From September 1st, 2014 until January 1st, 2016, Barcelona is forbidden from registering football players.
The club lodged an appeal on the Court of Arbitration of Sport, but nothing would change. Barcelona wouldn't able to register anyone in 2015.
April 5th, 2014 - Espai Barça is approved
After years of expectation, the board laid their hands on the golden egg: club members approved the plan to renew the Camp Nou. This was Rosell’s board biggest victory after winning La Liga in the 2012/13 season.
Jordi Moix led the campaign by the club throughout Catalunya, showing the benefits of the new stadium, spending three million euros. Money from the club that the members never authorized the board to use this way. And, curiously, the board only cared about travelling and making things easier for them to show their own idea.
Manifest Blaugrana tried to hold a meeting at the Camp Nou so they could show the members why they shouldn’t approve the reforms, but the club stopped them.
Bartomeu said the obvious: “What the members are worried about is how we are gonna pay for it”. Most members know how much the Camp Nou planned cost was in 1957, and how much it really cost at the end, almost double the expected. Barcelona also had to sell the best player on the world back then, the Spaniard Luis Suárez, to decrease the club's debt. Which didn’t really help, and Barcelona were in such a dire financial situation that the next league title was only won 14 years later.
€600 million is gonna be the cost, according to the Barcelona board.
€420 million for the stadium itself, €30 million for Espai Barça, €90 million for the new Palau Blaugrana, €40 million for the new parking lot and €20 million for the urbanistic reform. Barcelona are going to pay, according to the same board who said Neymar’s price was €57 million, is: €200 million from the club’s own funds (which this board originally promised to clear the debt before the stadium reform); €200 million from selling the Stadium; and the final €200 million from another bank loan.
A few years before, the same people claimed Barcelona didn't have money to pay for coloured photocopies, they're now willing to spend over €600 million in an immense reform. The problems just begun, below you will find some of the claims by this Barcelona board regarding the reform.
It rarely rains in Barcelona. Yet, the board is adamant the club needs a covered Camp Nou as other modern European stadiums. Which would be great, if it wasn’t so expensive.
“The new stadium will generate €30 million per year to the club!” it was promised, but not explained how they came up with this estimation, and couldn’t guarantee to members there isn’t going to be an increase on the yearly membership fees.
The 10.000 members from the first stand will be moved to another place in the stadium because all the new VIP boxes and shops need that space.
Companies like ISG, AEG, Icon Venue Group and Ryder Levett Bucknall are responsible for the project. All hired by Rosell. No explanations were offered to members why these companies have earned the right to get this monumental construction work. The members simply don't know enough about the project.
Out of the 108.858 members that could have voted for the reforms, only 37.535 showed up. Which is worrying considering over 81 thousand people attended the match vs Bétis on the Camp Nou on the same day.
The project was approved by 72,36% of those who voted. 27.161 members chose to give the people who were slowly eating away at our best team ever the authorization to spend €600 million in a project that lacked many details. 9.589 members, most of those informed by the efforts made in social media to enlighten the situation, voted against it.
A few weeks after the club was being investigated for fiscal fraud on the Neymar signing, and a few days after FIFA had banned Barcelona from signing players for a whole year, this board was getting exactly what they wanted the most.
So let make it clear what happened on that date: over 27.000 members approved a project that wasn’t much more than an exposition with mockups for €600 million. The board didn’t tell the members why they chose the companies that are charging this "exact" price. And we don’t know which companies are interested in the naming rights. It's not enough information given about something so important that could cripple the club financially for decades.
Jordi Moix cried of happiness that day. I hope none of us cry of sadness when it’s revealed who is behind the naming rights and the sweet construction contracts
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