specials | 2015-04-01
Fourteen to Zero - Part Five
Indictment & Reckoning
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.
In the final part of our special series, the beginning of the end for the Barcelona board.
June 3rd, 2014 - Sandro Rosell was indicted for the Neymar Case
The Judge decided to indict Sandro Rosell for fiscal fraud in the operation that brought Neymar to Barcelona. He now would have the honor of going to testify with Futbol Club Barcelona, as both were being indicted, to explain himself before the judge what happened, as he had asked in January.
July 7th, 2014 - Another part of Barcelona's soul is gone. This time, Txema Corbella
Luis Enrique was named the new coach after Tata Martino finished the season without trophies. Lucho promised to bring hard work and meritocracy back to the team. He also brought his own staff and didn’t want old members of the dressing room to disrupt his work and possibly leak information to media outlets, something Lucho hates.
So he asked the club to fire Txema Corbella, the beloved kits man that worked in the Barcelona dressing room for over 30 years, from Maradona to Messi. He was fired after being called to Zubizarreta's office and being told his time was up.
Bartomeu and Zubizarreta didn't want to fire Txema, they complied with what the new coach asked, but it doesn't work like that. A club cannot nonchalantly fire someone who has spent literally decades in the dressing room, loved by both players and fans because the new manager thinks it's improper.
Luis Enrique also tried to do the same with Pepe Costa, who is one of Messi’s best friends, Pepe was even allowed to stay with the Argentina National team during the 2014 World Cup. Bartomeu saw players and fans weren't happy after Txema's dismissal and decided to keep Pepe Costa.
It's logical, you can't fire people who dedicated most of their lives to the club because of a simple request.
July 22nd, 2014 - Rosell finally gets his wish
Sandro Rosell had asked to Judge to accept the lawsuit regarding the Neymar case, to summon him so he could explain everything. But since he stepped down as President, that would only be possible if he was named individually. Which he was.
Six months after taunting the Judge, he got his wish.
For 3 hours they talked. Rosell claimed the €40 million were paid as an compensation to Neymar’s company, and the other €17,1 million for his federative rights. Yes, Rosell still insisted Barcelona spent €57,1 million on Neymar, months after the club had revealed it exceeded €86 million.
Rosell said that after being indicted, he read each clause of the contract and could only praise the club’s lawyers for their job.
August 27th, 2014 - Douglas (Traffic) strikes again
This signing needs to be mentioned because it's offensive. Not only this board sign a player who wasn’t even good enough for the Brazilian League and its kick-and-rush football, but Douglas also “happened” to sign with Barcelona with the help from the same people who brought us Henrique and Keirrison, two Brazilians that Barcelona spent a lot of money on and didn’t spend a single minute on pitch.
Third time's the charm, maybe? €5,5 million for someone that's been less than a squad player, and while Luis Enrique does defend him from time to time, it’s clear he’s just taking one for the team. No team in Europe chased Douglas. No big team in Brazil was even tempted to approach him.
May our next board never repeat this shameful link between Traffic and Futbol Club Barcelona.
September 15th, 2014 - The Revenge Failed
Three years and eleven months after lying and deciding to sue the previous board for financial losses that only existed because Sandro Rosell had the books changed, the Judge reached a decision: there weren’t any losses.
In fact, Laporta had left the club in a surplus.
October 1st, 2014 - Neymar Senior talks before the judge
Neymar Senior wasn’t indicted on the case, so he appeared before the judge as a witness. He also spent 3 hours talking, and these were the main points:
Real Madrid really did offer €150 million for Neymar, but the player preferred Barcelona due to its “power of seduction”. Regarding the several contracts Sandro Rosell signed, Neymar Senior featured once, and he was supposed to receive a salary for scouting youth players, work that he said to still be doing. He said the same about another contract, where he received money as Neymar’s agent, still being paid.
Then came the interesting part: Nestor Amela, FCB’s FCO, informed that the club had set apart another €8.8 million for “possible expenditures during the lawsuit”. He wasn’t including on the €13.5 million Barcelona had already paid.
So, right now, Neymar's overall cost is: €10 million (2011), €86,2 million (2013), €13,5 million (2014) and, possibly another €8,8 million which adds to €118,5 million.
Financial engineering at its best.
October 31st, 2014 - The CAS Appeal
Knowing very well that an entire year without signing players would be the board's end, Bartomeu appealed to the Court of Arbitration of Sport against the FIFA transfer embargo.
It was only a maneuver to keep complaining about how unfair FIFA had been, how La Masia is pristine and doesn’t deserve such punishment. But, finally, Bartomeu stopped talking about the "Black Hand". It actually happened due to “administrative errors”.
November 26th, 2014 - Not about revenge now, but self-preservation
The judge had ruled that Laporta’s board committed no crimes during their tenure. No financial losses, but a surplus. Any reasonable person would expect the current board to drop the lawsuit and finally move on from their lies, from their dishonesty to smear Joan Laporta and his board.
The problem presented itself, if the Barcelona board didn’t appeal, Laporta and 17 other ex-board members could now sue Rosell’s board for damages. So they did appeal and it may take years until the final verdict is reached.
At least they had the decency to call off the second lawsuit that sought to make Joan Laporta and his 17 board members to each pay €3 million from their pockets.
December 30th, 2014 - CAS, predictably, denied the appeal
Bartomeu was going as far as he could in appealing against the transfer embargo so the press and the misinformed members would believe he fought such “injustice” until the end.
The appeal was denied. Bartomeu released a short video on the club’s website condemning the decision and saying, as always, that La Masia is too good for rules.
It was another big blow to this board, which would cause the most chaotic week Barcelona and its fans have witnessed in years.
January 4th, 2015 - Happy New Year, Happy New Board
Seven days were needed to see this board shaken in such a manner, fans are now excited for change after years under the rule of this atrocious administration. After losing to Real Sociedad at Anoeta, Zubizarreta made his last ever statement as our Sporting Director.
Signing Alex Song, taking three years to bring a centre back and when he finally made it, paid €20 million for Mathieu when he could have bought the Frenchman a year before for half the price, €10 million for Vermaelen after Zubizarreta was told by the medical department the player was significantly injured and shouldn’t be signed, helping out Traffic and signing Douglas. Zubizarreta wasn't fired for that.
Zubi spent years accepting criticism for several decisions he did not make. Rosell forced Tata Martino on him; he had nothing to do with Neymar’s signing; Suárez was requested by Luis Enrique, who also demanded the club to sign Bravo since Lucho did not trust arguably what is going to become the best signing Zubizarreta made: Marc-André ter Stegen.
He took the criticism quietly, but now that it was clear that Bartomeu was running out of credit, Zubizarreta went out with dignity by point the finger at one of the main transfer embargo culprits (Bartomeu was at the beginning the Sporting Vice-President when FIFA first warned Barcelona of the infringements regarding minors at La Masia), and 14 hours later, he was fired. Bartomeu thought that by firing the criticised sporting director, he could calm things down after the transfer embargo appeal debacle.
After Messi’s actions on January 5th, not showing up at training after the defeat at Anoeta and following Chelsea on Instagram, the fire wasn't burning out. The pressure from the media, board members and the opposition made the president do what he should have done after Sandro Rosell stepped down: confirm elections would be called.
On January 7th, 2014, Bartomeu, the President no one voted for, informed members and fans he was going to remain in charge only for the next six months. Elections will finally take place at the end of the season. Almost 1 year after the most voted President in Barcelona's history fled, the members were told they will now choose the next president.
It’s time we start rebuilding from the rubble of Sandro Rosell’s reign.
January 15th, 2015 - Barcelona is slipping out of football's elite
The one thing this board has always being proud is how they saved Barcelona from bankruptcy, an absurd claim, and managed the club so superbly well we were making money each year, which was technically true, but also hides the fact that if it wasn’t for they Qatar deal, the club has stagnated economically since 2010. The only thing they added to Barcelona's revenues was the money from the Qatar deal.
The new Deloitte money report was released, showing the club stagnated at €485 million for the past three years, the club's worst situation since 2007/08. The distance to the richest clubs in Europe is growing while PSG, Manchester City and Chelsea are getting closer.
When Joan Laporta took over in 2003, Barcelona was 13th on the same ranking, with a revenue similar to Newcastle. In six years under Laporta’s rule, we overcame Manchester United and became the 2nd richest club on Earth, closer to a revenue similar to Real Madrid.
In global terms, the growth seen on the 20 clubs the form the economic elite has been of 14%, while FCB’s revenues have actually DECREASED 1% since 2011/12, a period in each the other 4 richest clubs have seen a growth of 40%!
The board’s excuse is that this has been happening due to poor performances on the pitch.
Barcelona reached the 2nd place in the ranking in 2007/08 after winning no titles, showing that economic growth cannot be based only on performances if there is actual planning in place, as Manchester United has recently showed as they finished their last season in 7th and didn’t qualify for any European competition, but continue to grow.
February 3rd, 2015 - Bartomeu is charged with tax fraud
On February 2014, for the first time in its history, Barcelona was charged with tax fraud. One year later, also for the first time in it’s history, its President was charged with the same crime.
The Judge decided to charged Rosell with two tax frauds to continue holding Barcelona responsible for a fraud identified last year and added a new charge: Bartomeu failed to pay €2.8 million in taxes owed in 2014 regarding the €40 million paid to Neymar’s company.
In fact, the club hasn’t paid any taxes regarding Neymar’s deal since 2011, which comes to a total of €12 million.
Right now, the Spanish fiscal authorities say Barcelona has spent €82 million on Neymar, and another €12 million in taxes. The penalty for infringements are yet to be decided and it could cost the club a lot more.
Bartomeu returned with his "Black Hand" excuses. The same used against FIFA, only to later confess there wasn’t any black hand, and the club had actually made mistakes. Bartomeu dared to claim Barcelona were being attacked because the club supports the Catalan Independence movement.
Barcelona signed the Independence Pact after being pressured by several members groups, and the board, who had promised to keep the senyera as the third kit forever, stopped using it after September. The current board actually distanced themselves from the independence movement and Bartomeu went to blame Real Madrid for it too.
March 23rd, 2015 - Bartomeu and Rosell could end up in jail
On Monday, one day after winning El Clásico, the Spanish Fiscal Authorities released a statement requesting the judge on Neymar's fiscal case to incarcerate Sandro Rosell for seven years and three months and Bartomeu, our current President, for two years and three months. The last two Futbol Club Barcelona Presidents could end up in jail in what is quickly becoming one of the greatest institutional crisis the club endured in over a century of existence.
If that wasn't enough, the fiscal authorities also requested the judge to demand €33m in reparation from Barcelona, Rosell and Bartomeu itself. This sum could damage the club's transfer strategy in 2016 after a transfer embargo caused by the same responsible.
The upcoming months will be decisive for the future of our beloved club, now you have the complete knowledge of the real story. There is no Black Hand or a conspiracy against Barcelona, only incompetence.
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