On the field, Barcelona had their least successful season since Frank Rijkaard coached the team. Off the field, the Catalan super power was raking it in, and in the process, Barca was getting its house in order.
According to club vice-president for economic affairs Javier Faus (told via FourFourTwo), Barcelona made a club record €48.8 million ($59 million) last season, doing it the obvious way: Make more, spend less. The club increased revenue by $26 million (to near $600 million) while reducing costs (to just over $534 million).
Ironically, the club’s profits were boosted by not willing La Liga:
After two consecutive years of financial losses, and three consecutive league titles, Barca were beaten to the top spot in Spain by Real Madrid in May but avoided having to pay out 12 million euros in win bonuses.
“If we had won La Liga the overall surplus would have been 36 million euros and it would still have been the best end-of-year figure in the history of the club,” Faus said.
Other big cost cutters: outsourcing the club’s in-house television instance, loaning out more players, and trimming some deadwood off the playing roster (think Aleksandr Hleb). The big revenue drivers were obvious: Increased ticket sales and moving more apparel.
Where will the money go? Don’t assume into payroll. Like most Spanish clubs, Barcelona has crazy debt, though they’ve reduced it by around 20 percent in the last two years (from €420 million to €335 million). According to Faus, the money’s going there.
That creates a few spin problems for soccer’s financial chicken littles. First, there seems to be some evidence here that soccer’s financial system is neither inherently broken nor inherently corrupt. Second, Barcelona isn’t just blindly scooping up players with whatever money they can find. Surprisingly, they seem to have other considerations.
Payroll, however, is still the clubs’ biggest financial commitment. By far. At close to $361 million, it accounts for over two-thirds of the club’s operating costs.
According to Faus, the wage bill’s unlikely to get any lower:
Cost savings had come from outsourcing of BarcaTV and loaning out players among other things, while rescinding the contracts of unwanted players such as Keirrison, Aleksandr Hleb and Henrique had had a negative impact on the accounts.
Salaries had been slightly reduced to 298 million euros.
“It’s difficult to reduce this figure further, we’re working to maintain stability,” said Faus.