analysis | 2016-08-02
The definitive account of FC Barcelona's finances last season
From Can Rigalt to André Gomes, how Barça has decreased its debt and increased its income
FC Barcelona has presented its financial report for the 2015/16 season last Thursday, showing some very good results, with a record income of €678.9 million and a €28.7 profit after taxes, €8.7 million more than the club had budgeted for at the start of the season. “It has been an exceptional year,” said the club’s economic vice-president Susana Monje. “I want to congratulate everyone because they’ve done great work. The Can Rigalt ruling was a shame. Without this decision the results would have been even better,” she highlighted.
She added: “Things are going well. If the sporting area asks us to make an effort for something we will agree because we can do it. The signing of André Gomes was a market opportunity and we took it.” In this sense, she also commented that “the club can afford to pay the best squad in the world. The competitiveness of the club keeps growing in regards to salaries because we generate high profits. The percentage that we can allocate to salaries keeps growing. There has been no difficulty in maintaining the best players of the club.”
The revenue obtained this year, €679 million, is the highest one in the club’s history, representing an increase of €45.9 million over the amount that the club had planned to receive when they did the budget for this season (7%) and a 12% (€71.2 million) increase over the income of last year, which was also a historic record at the time.
“It’s difficult to best the income of this season; I’ll be satisfied if we get close to €700 million next season,” Monje stated. The club’s budget for the 2016/17 season will probably be presented sometime in September and then it will have to be approved by the General Assembly in October. One of the reasons why there probably won’t be another big increase in income next season is the renewal of the shirt sponsorship contract with Qatar Airways with the same conditions as before. Regarding this deal, the economic vice-president said that “going from 0 to €35 million is good news because we can maintain the level of income and we should keep in mind that this is still the third best shirt sponsorship contract in world football. In fact, if we consider the contracts with Nike, Beko and Qatar, Barça’s shirt is the best paid shirt in the world.”
The club has especially obtained more money from its marketing department, with a revenue increase of €43 million in this area. There was an increase of 19% in this area, reaching the figure of €268 million and solidifying its lead over other income sources. €24 million correspond to the new Nike deal, signed before the end of the season. The renewal with the American giant has produced an advance payment of €12 million for “living performances” of the contract that is ending and another €12 million of money obtained from licensing which has grown in a year from €13 million to €24 million.
According to Palco23.com, a site specializing in sport finances, Pancho Schröeder, Barça’s corporate executive, has made it clear that this additional money from Nike isn’t a signing bonus, because that couldn’t have been accounted for in only one year given the fact that it had to be divided and written into the accounts yearly from now until 2028 when the Nike deal ends. The marketing department also earned money from the US tour the club did last summer and from new sponsors.
Another department which has seen an increase was the ticketing one, favored by a more “aggressive” Seient Lliure policy. This has made the members receive more money, meaning that the club has lost 3% of the revenue it gets from its members, but it received €9 million more from tickets sold. The Museum revenue has also grown by 20% to the figure of €35 million. The income from FCB Events has gone from €3 million to €7 million.
€48.4 million was the income from player sales following the departures of Pedro, Adama, Grimaldo and the handball player Karabatic to PSG.
The impact of the Can Rigalt Ruling
The board decided to include the economic effects arising from the Can Rigalt ruling into the accounts for the financial year 2015/16. “The legal documents would have allowed us to include this deal in the books of the year 2005 when the sale was made, but we thought that this could lead to a social and legal issue that wasn’t worth opening. It also wasn’t optimal from a fiscal point of view and would have cost us more. That’s why we made the decision to include it in the normal management of the club.”
Monje explained that despite the fact that the club will have to pay Inmobiliaria Mar €47 million for the failed sale of the land, the net impact of this in the club’s accounts has been €30 million, divided between a financial expenditure of €11.67 million in interests and a provision of €17.9 million.
The difference until €47 million is explained by the fact that from the original sale the club had €7.38 million put aside to cover the urbanization costs of the area. That money has now been freed up because of this ruling and is counted as income to the club’s accounts. Another €10 million come from the current market value of the land who is now once again a club asset, as evaluated by the company Gesval. This value is estimated in the idea that the land will become urbanized in three years. The club has provisioned an additional €2 million to cover any other potential costs.
Another legal issue that was finalized this year was the Neymar Case in which a deal was reached for the club to declare itself guilty of two fiscal crimes and pay a fine of €5.5 million. The provisions that were made to cover the cost of this trial were higher than this figure, so an additional €6 million could be freed up and count as income for the club.
In other words, the economic impact of the Can Rigalt ruling was covered completely by freeing up the provisions made for the urbanization of the area and the Neymar case in addition to the extra money obtained from Nike.
Expenditure under control
The financial report also shows the fact that the expenditure of the club has only increased by 8%, a lower rate than the income. It now stands at €630 million and without including the extraordinary impact of the Can Rigalt case the growth in expenditure would have been just 5%.
The investment in sporting wage bill (salaries + amortizations) has only grown by 4% to €435 million. In this sense it is important to note another positive aspect which is the fact that the ratio of salaries to income has been lowered in respect to last season when it was 73% and it’s now 69% (if we only consider the first team’s salaries this figure is 63%), which is within the recommended limits. Monje has said that the salaries are “under control” seeing as how the increase in this area is lower than the increase in the club’s income. “This increase in salaries is in the line that we were expecting; if we’re under 70% we already know that the club will have profits,” she added. The economic VP also admitted that in the current context player sales will keep being a way of obtaining benefits, because they help compensate the strong expenditure in amortizations.
In the rest of departments the increase in spending has been restrained in non sporting salaries, which went up by 3% to €37 million, even though the corporate part of the club now employs more than 400 people, 10% more than last year. The exploitation expenditure went up by 10%, which the club attributes to the cost of traveling to the Club World Cup.
The club’s legal fees have been lowered. In the 2014/15 season the club paid €2.3 million to outside counsel and this year it only paid €1.6 million.
At the end of the fiscal year the federative rights of Samuel Umtiti were acquired for €25 million and after the finalization of this fiscal year the club also signed Lucas Digne, Denis Suárez and André Gomes. Monje explained that the club can spend another €20-24 million this summer on new signings because the signing of André Gomes is not counted in the transfer budget of €60 million for this summer. This transfer was considered a market opportunity and this money will be taken from the transfer budget of the following summer.
It’s also important to note that in the 2016/17 season the contract renewals of Sergio Busquets, Neymar and Javier Mascherano will come into effect, which will probably increase the wage bill.
Important debt reduction
Besides the fact that the wage bill to income ratio was over the recommended percentage, last year’s financial report also presented another problem: the ordinary net debt to EBITDA ratio (3.12) was over the limit (2.75) that the club’s statutes allowed and if the board didn’t manage to reduce it below the threshold in two years they would have had to resign.
This year, the ordinary net debt of the club has been lowered from €328 million to €271.4 million and the EBITDA has increased from €105 million to €140 million (second highest EBITDA in the club’s history), which means that the ratio is now 1.94, much lower than the 2.5 threshold imposed by the club’s statutes for this year (Article 67 states that by the end of the 2017/18 financial year, this ratio has to be less than 2, with a progressive decrease from the time the statuses were approved until 2018: the 2014/15 season had a maximum ratio of 2.75, 2015/16 had 2.5, 2.25 for 2016/17 and from 2017/18 onwards it’s 2). Monje made a note of the fact that without the impact of the Can Rigalt ruling the debt would have been lowered by €87 million and the ratio would have been 1.72.
Since 2010 the club has reduced its debt by €159.2 million and is on track to being able to lowering it under the €200 million limit that the club had imposed for the start of the Espai Barça project.
The ordinary net debt doesn’t include “sections corresponding to the finance of extraordinary investment projects in material property to be used for the club’s sporting and ordinary activities”, so the debt accumulated for the Espai Barça project will not affect this ratio. Until now this project has added approximately €16 million to the club’s debt.
Monje also explained that the syndicate credit that the club had taken out in 2010 has now been paid off, which means that the club does not owe any money to banks and its entire debt is to other clubs (transfer fees are paid in installments) or in other concepts.
The strength of the club’s equity continues growing as a result of the investments made in the improvement of the club’s facilities and assets. This season, €19.7 million were invested in this area. In the stadium areas like the Museum or Hospitality zones were improved and rehabilitated. In the Sporting Center the medical center has underwent some reforms and the grass on the training fields was changed. In terms of systems, the Wi-Fi project in all the facilities of Les Corts can be signaled out as well as the developments of technologies destined to the Area of Health and Sporting Performance, along with other research and development activities. An investment of €9.2 million was made for the Espai Barça project in this year, in addition to the 6.7 million spent in the previous seasons.
The cost of Neymar’s transfer
Monje went into details regarding Neymar’s transfer cost, which has varied as a result of the deal that was reached with the prosecution. She explained that they had always said that the transfer cost was €57.3 million (€17.3 million that were paid to Santos and €40 million that were paid to Neymar’s father’s company N&N), plus a €2 million bonus that have already been paid to Santos because the Brazilian forward was a Ballon D’Or finalist. But this deal with the prosecution means that those €40 million (and the money paid to other companies owned by Neymar’s father through additional contracts) are now considered payments made to the player. So this figure has to be subtracted from the cost of the transfer and registered as salary for the player in the club’s books. Analyzing this from “an account point of view,” Monje said that the transfer fee paid for Neymar is calculated at “€19.3 million. The rest is accounted as salary for the player: the €40 million payment, the other existing contracts, the 5.5 million paid as a fine to the Tax Office as a result of the deal with the prosecution, and the additional 10 million in back taxes. This means Neymar’s gross salary is €24.8 million, which means about €12 million net.”
After going through the numbers, Monje congratulated all the people involved in Neymar’s transfer.
“From an economic point of view it was an exceptional operation to sign a player like him, with his quality. Everyone who made this operation possible has to be congratulated and the player too for deciding to come here when he had better offers. We know that there were other clubs interested. I think that a transfer fee of €19.3 million and a gross salary of €24.8 million are figures that are below the market rate for players of his type and exemplify the effort made on both sides.”
The economic VP also made a note of the fact that the agency contract signed with NR Sports had allowed the club to enter the Brazilian market and gained it an income of €900.000 from marketing contracts and that the scouting contract signed with N&N had produced the club reports on several interesting Brazilian players.
Monje also said that the two additional contracts signed with Santos in 2013 were good for the club. The first one stated that the clubs had to play two friendlies, one of which was the Gamper Trophy in 2013. The second one was a contract for the first option on the transfer of three of the Brazilian club’s young players. “Santos came to the Gamper for free because of this contract and this earned the club €3.5 million that day. In regards to those players, we still have a first option on an interesting player, Gabigol,” explained the VP.
Asked about the €86.2 million operation cost that had resulted from the numbers that had resulted from the presentation that President Bartomeu had made in January 2014, Monje said that “I didn’t agree to the sums that were made, transfer fees and salaries were added up together. You can’t mix apples and oranges. We want to clear up what is salary and what is transfer fee.”
The VP also said that a provision of €1.5 million was made “in case there is a difference in interpretation in regard to the accounts of 2014.” The deal with the prosecution only included the fiscal years 2011 and 2013 and for 2014 the club is “in discussion with the Tax Office, but this isn’t going on a penal way, just an administrative one. It’s a discussion that is alive and that’s why we made this provision.”
Monje advised against signing Nolito last winter
Monje admitted that her department recommended not signing Nolito in the last winter window: “In January we still needed to apply extreme prudency. We didn’t know if we would balance the numbers, but we had an exceptional second semester in which we have gathered the fruits of our work in the first one. But in January we were still in a situation of unbalance, we didn’t have any assurance that it would all work out. The recommendation not to sign him was made, but it was just that, a recommendation. And the club made a decision not to sign him.”
The unbalance that Monje was talking about was the debt/EBITDA ratio that was over the limit and has now been resolved.
With the two main problems (wage bill to income ratio and debt to EBITDA ratio) of the previous year resolved and a record in incomes the club’s financial situation looks healthy at this point in time. In the following years the income will keep growing as the new collective La Liga TV rights deal comes into effect, the new Nike kit deal kicks in and the club finds a shirt sponsor that pays what they’re looking for. It will also be interesting to see if the board manages to lower the debt below the €200 million threshold they established by the time the work on the stadium is supposed to start in summer 2017. We will find out more about all this when the club presents its budget for the 2016/17 season in the next months.
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WRITTEN BY: Diana Uzum
Barcelona fan since the days of Kluivert and Rivaldo. Been here for the good, the bad and the ugly.