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Barca Presidents Continue War Of Words Over Messi’s Exit

Joan Laporta
Joan Laporta

August 16, (THEWILL) – On Sunday, Barcelona kicked off their post-Lionel Messi season with a lively 4-2 victory over Real Sociedad on the pitch but the circumstances of the exit of their Argentine star is still being debated as club President Joan Laporta felt it necessary to provide an elaborate press conference that highlighted the depth of the club’s economic crisis on Monday.

Over the weekend, THEWILL reported on accusations levelled against Laporta by his predecessor Josep Maria Bartomeu, who heaped all the blame for Messi’s departure on the current board, claiming that his administration had contingency plans that could have prevented the loss of Messi.

Laporta’s sudden media address was a direct response and attempt at a complete rebuttal of the claims in Bartomeu’s letter to the club’s current Board. Laporta was clearly not going to allow Bartomeu wash his hands clean off the entire crises bedevilling the club.

Therefore, Laporta began the conference by painting a picture of the situation when his board took over at the club’s offices. He said, “The first thing we had to do when we arrived was to ask for a loan of 80 million euros because otherwise, we could not pay the salaries.

“We also found that we had to do some urgent repairs to the Camp Nou because otherwise, it posed a risk to the attending fans. We also found out that the club had already received 50% of the TV rights fees in advance.”

“We found the wage policy in the form of an inverted pyramid. Veterans had long contracts and youngsters had short contracts.”

Laporta then contradicted the claims of wage cuts facilitated by the former Board: “The reduction of 68m euros in salaries sold by the previous board is not all that. We have found those millions in different types of bonuses in the new contracts.”

The President supported his defense with figures, claiming that the impact of the pandemic was €91 million and that the wage bill was 103% of the club’s revenue, while the net worth of the club was a negative €451 million.

He came full circle to thrash the administration of Bartomeu for recklessness and lies, saying: “We have found that disproportionate payments have been made to intermediaries, not even agents. Bartomeu’s letter is an effort to justify management that is unjustifiable. It is an exercise in desperation. They are responsible for everything until March 7. They will not escape their doing.”

“In his letter, Bartomeu spoke about a further €90 million salary cut that he planned. But the players didn’t even want to talk to him. Moreover, the wages that were lowered were just carry-overs.”

“They received €222 million for Neymar, and they spent it at the speed of light and disproportionately. And now we find ourselves with skyrocketed salaries.”

Laporta wrapped up his address by referring to progress made in current negotiations with captains for a salary reduction which was partly successful with Gerard Pique, as THEWILL reported. Laporta finished saying: “We talked to the captains regarding wage cuts. Now we are going to talk to the others.”