Barcelona register new signings on eve of season after selling €100m in image rights

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Barcelona sell €100m in image rights in desperate bid to register players - GETTY IMAGES
Barcelona sell €100m in image rights in desperate bid to register players - GETTY IMAGES

Barcelona registered all their new signings this summer just one day before the league season starts, with the exception of the France international Jules Kounde, after selling a further €100 million of future revenues, taking the total sold this year to around €700 million.

The new players Robert Lewandowski, Andreas Christensen, Franck Kessie, Raphinha and Pablo Torre, as well as renewals Ousmane Dembele and Sergi Roberto, were declared registered according to the Spanish’s Liga’s financial controls on Friday night. The club anticipate their budget will allow for Kounde, bought from Seville for €50 million, to be registered by Sept 1 by which time he is expected to have recovered from surgery.

The most recent €100 million of Barcelona’s future revenues was sold to Catalan entrepreneur Jaume Roures’ Orpheus Media who bought a 24.5 per cent share in the Barca Studios enterprise. The fourth of the club’s so-called “economic levers” relates to NFTs and digital assets, Barcelona announced. For one of the most indebted clubs in Europe, the deal follows the previous sale of 25 per cent of Barca Studios to Socios.com, which specialises in the sale of digital fans tokens.

Speaking to Radio Barcelona, Roures, a friend of club president Joan Laporta, said that he would not have interrupted his summer holiday were it not to make a significant intervention for the club. Roures said: “I don't know what Barça need to register all the [new] players. What I do know is that with this investment of €100 million is enough to see the team we want to see [on Saturday against Rayo Vallecano]."

He described the finances that Laporta had inherited from his predecessor Josep Maria Bartomeu as “a s----- scenario”. “We started with a situation that people can’t even imagine". Roures said Laporta had overseen, from a transfer and financial point of view, “the best July in history” and had demonstrated the “strength of the club and the brand” but added that Barcelona “still hasn't solved all its problems.”

Joan Laporta (left) has led Barcelona's summer spending spree - EUROPA PRESS VIA GETTY IMAGES
Joan Laporta (left) has led Barcelona's summer spending spree - EUROPA PRESS VIA GETTY IMAGES

Liga’s rules on how they calculate the spending cap for clubs relate to projections for earnings over a season which are submitted to the league executive. Barcelona are permitted to book these recent €700 million sales of future income streams as revenue, when they are, in effect debt.

Under Laporta, Barcelona have already sold 25 per cent of its future television revenue from Liga for the next 25 years to the US investment company Sixth Street. The first 10 per cent tranche was valued at €207 million although that was in order to settle losses for the previous financial year. There was no precise figure placed on the subsequent 15 per cent sale last month but it is likely to have raised in excess of €300 million. The sale of 49.5 per cent of Barca Studios has raised €200 million.

Barcelona are around €1.5 billion in debt although in spite of that they have embarked on a major recruitment drive this summer, beating rivals to some signings - including Chelsea to Kounde and Raphinha. The club are part of the legal action working its way through the European Court of Justice currently trying to break what it says is a Uefa monopoly on European club competitions. A decision in the favour of the European Super League rebel three would pave the way for much greater revenues that would help solve some of Barcelona’s problems.

One of their allies in that enterprise, the Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, said this week that the league needed Barcelona to be competitive and that doing so would be “good for everyone”. Both Spain’s biggest two clubs are heavily dependent on Liga broadcast revenues rising over the next two decades and also on earning much more from European competition.