What did we learn from the press conference of Joan Laporta?

At noon on the 16th of August 2021, Laporta held a very lengthy press conference to fully explain the situation of the club. Once again, highlighting the shocking and dramatic  situation the club finds itself in. As well as responding to the letter from Josep Maria  Bartomeu. Where he lists 8 points as to why he feels he is not to blame for the club’s  mismanagement. Although of course we all know that he is the main reason why we are in  such a state right now. Laporta hinted towards taking action against the previous board, and  named them fully responsible for Barca’s current situation. This was quite possibly one of  the longest press conferences I have ever sat through, lasting around about 2 hours.  However, regardless of that, I also felt Laporta was upfront, honest and completely  transparent. It was really refreshing to know the extent of the club’s situation. Rather than  being left in the dark. 

Barça VS Bartomeu 

The main aim of this press conference of Laporta was to explain and add context to the current  economic situation of FC Barcelona. Responding to the letter created by Bartomeu a few days ago, aswell as explain decisions that have and will be made by the current board. Laporta started off the press conference by bluntly responding to the ridiculous claims made  by ex president Bartomeu. “8 points, 8 lies” was Laporta’s response. He made it clear that  what Bartomeu had put in his letter was all absolute nonsense. 

Numbers were exaggerated or not accounted for properly. This was especially evident when  it came to discussing the ‘Espai Barça’ project, where Laporta labelled it as being a “hoax”.  Details of the project aren’t viable, which is exactly why Laporta’s board have had to make a  lot of changes to the initial proposal. The basis of Bartomeu’s letter to Laporta was to try  and save his image. Laporta however, was having none of it. Joan said that Bartomeu’s  communication was “an effort to justify a management that is unjustifiable”. He continued, “They (Bartomeu’s board) are responsible until March 17th 2021 & the consequences of  their management. No one will escape their responsibilities.” 

Terrifying numbers

We find ourselves in a horrific situation, with an overall debt of 1350 million euros. The  impact of COVID results to a figure of €91 million which proves that it is not COVID that got us into this mess. The structure of the wage bill is all wrong. 103% of the club’s turnover is  all spent on the wages. Which is 25-30% more than any other club. The older players have  long contracts, whilst the youth players have short ones. All of this had been structured by  Bartomeu and his board. Which is why at the moment, it is impossible for us as a club to  move on. Laporta believes that in 2 years, we will be much healthier economically. Proving  yet again that what Bartomeu did to Barça is not going to be a quick fix. 

Messi’s Departure: 

One of the hot topics at the moment all concerns Laporta’s role in Lionel Messi leaving the  club of his life. All Barça fans have been effected emotionally recently after the sad  departure of Leo. The greatest player of all time wanted to stay at Barcelona. However due  to economic obstacles, his wish couldn’t be fulfilled. We went the whole summer convinced  that Leo would be staying at the club that he loves. And so did he. But sadly, on the day  where it looked like everything was going to be signed and sealed, the unimaginable  happened. FC Barcelona confirmed that Messi would not be continuing at the club. And they  put it down to economic obstacles, referring to the salary cap in La Liga. Leo desperately  wanted to stay at his home, but due to La Liga’s strict wage rules, it couldn’t happen. 

Fans have been looking for anyone, absolutely anyone to blame for this sad event. And instead of looking at the man who caused all the mess, people seem to be blaming Laporta.

False Promises?

Not once did Laporta promise that Messi would stay. He said that he would do everything in  the club’s power to keep Messi at the club. Throughout the elections, he said that with him,  he would be the most likely to convince Leo to stay. Which is exactly what he did. Both  parties reached a complete and full agreement to continue the beautiful story. Messi fully  understood the economic situation of the club and did everything he could to stay, just like  Laporta.But due to circumstances out of our control, it was not possible. Today during his  press conference, Laporta cleared a lot of things up. He said that during months of  negotiations, “La Liga fed us expectations that it would allow us a salary margin to fit Messi,  but they did not tell us in exchange for what. And when we met him, we couldn’t accept it.” 

The week of the proposed contract renewal, La Liga had agreed in principal with an  investment company,CVC. In simple terms, this deal would’ve been a short term cash  injection for all La Liga teams, allowing them to register all new players. And would also give  them more flexibility for their wages. On the face of it, it looked like a very good deal.  However when looked at more closely, a lot of worrying things start to appear. “The CVC  deal was to mortgage television rights for half a century, and it is not structured as income  but as a debt: the legal structure is not that they make us a payment, it is like a credit/loan.” 

Laporta wanted Messi to stay

One thing is clear. Laporta is just as sad as  we are that Messi left. He desperately wanted him to stay and did absolutely everything he could in order to make it happen. “It was a shame it didn’t end the way we wanted”, said Laporta. Unfortunately,  the club he inherited is in a much worse state than he had imagined. 

He’s basically doing business with one hand behind his back. Laporta has no margin  whatsoever, thanks to the mismanagement of the previous board. The CVC agreement is  something that would effect Barcelona in the long run, and he wasn’t prepared to sacrifice  us for the next 50 years. And put the clubs future at risk. Laporta explained,“We are  convinced that the decisions that should have been made have been made. Messi’s  situation is sad, but it was necessary. Because the institution is above all.” 

Conclusion: 

The overall message from Laporta today was one of calm. He highlighted the horrific  damage that has been done to the club by the previous board. Clearly stating that they are  responsible for what we are dealing with now. However, Laporta wanted to reassure us all  that everything will be okay. Everything will get better. He asked for unity and support. Once  again saying that the only way out of this mess is to work and work hard. FC Barcelona is still  the biggest club in world football. The next year or so may be tough, but in the long run we  will see results. Barça will rise again and we’ll all be here to enjoy it. 

One final thing to remember: 

If you want to blame anyone, then blame the man who got us into this horrific mess in the  first place. Do not blame the man who is coming in to fix it! 

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