- Barcelona The great work of Laporta: the partners approve a loan of up to 1,500 million to finance the Espai Barça
"Not a sword of Damocles hangs over us that has to fall on March 31." This is how Barcelona sources express themselves before the long negotiation that the club continues to maintain with investors to obtain the 1,500 million euros of financing of the Espai Barça. Although the entity had self-imposed as a deadline to settle the operation this coming Friday, the Barcelona directive no longer sees so clear that it can arrive on time before the conviction of being able to obtain better conditions than those offered so far. The emissaries of the US bank Goldman Sachs, in charge together with JP Morgan of looking for the money, have been traveling at least once to Barcelona for months to advance in the operation. Now they are also in the Catalan city.
The operation that should allow the remodeling of the Camp Nou and the construction of a new Palau Blaugrana, according to sources involved in the negotiation, is not in danger. In fact, in the club they defend that they would be in a position to sign it now. But the conditions still do not satisfy them, so they are willing to continue to hurry. Maintaining, yes, the main idea that the first team plays at the Montjuïc stadium next season to return to Spotify Camp Nou on November 20, 2024. "Now it does not cross our minds that it is not like that," they say from the Barça entity.
In Barcelona, who regret that the directive of Josep Maria Bartomeu did not start the project when the economic situation was much more favorable – an agreement could have been reached with an interest rate of 3%, say sources familiar with the negotiation – they are willing to assume now a rate of 6%. No more. Something that investors do not see with bad eyes. Although the workhorse, according to those who know the operation, is not so much the interest rate, but at the moment when it can be renegotiated downwards. Although investors are committed to not touching it for a long term, in the directive they intend to reduce it from five years – "it would be a reasonable term", as they understand in the club – and thus be able to take advantage of a much more normalized market situation. Also, Barça try to ensure that this restructuring does not involve a high outlay.
The doubts of the 'Negreira Case'
It has not helped the Barça club, nor the growing instability of the bank, nor the surprise aroused by the election of the Turkish construction company Limak, much less the concern generated among investors by the Negreira case. They turned to Goldman Sachs so that the bank could send Barcelona a series of questions regarding the payments made over 17 years to José María Enríquez Negreira, former vice president of the Technical Arbitration Committee. Above all, lenders wanted clarification, to know what kind of sanctions the entity could be exposed to, and to assess the risk of its investment. Barcelona, which has already responded to that request for information, told them that in no case can the first team be relegated as the administrative route has expired in Spain.
Investors also asked about a hypothetical exclusion of Barca from European competitions by UEFA. The highest continental football body announced last week an investigation into "the possible violation of the regulations" by the Barça club. Barcelona transferred to its potential lenders its conviction that there will be no sanction and that they will be able to play the Champions League.
Although in Barcelona they also manage a plan B before a hypothetical punishment. It would be to compensate for the loss of income by drawing up a plan of friendly matches in places willing to pay a good price. "If UEFA didn't let us play with them, then we'd go somewhere else. And maybe we'll even make more money," Barça said.
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- Joan Laporta