FC Barcelona is to host Rayo Vallecano in their first La Liga match this season on Saturday, 13th of August with no assurance that their new signings would be on the pitch.
There is a possibility that FC Barcelona might not be able to register Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen ( signed on free transfers), Raphinha from Leeds United, Jules Kounde from Sevilla, and Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich before the 2022-2023 season kick-off later today, August 12, 2022. Barca have not also registered the new contracts signed by Ousmane Dembele and Sergi Roberto.
Therefore, these seven players are currently not eligible to play for Barcelona this season despite featuring in the preseason as the Spanish giants fail to meet La Liga’s financial requirements.
According to La Liga’s financial control; a salary cap meant to protect the domestic league’s competitive integrity, each Spanish side is given a spending cap that denotes the maximum amount they can spend on the first team players and coaching staff; a figure that includes wages and transfer fees.
Simply put, the limit is essentially a calculation of what the club can afford based on revenue against outgoings and debt. It is also applied before signings; so if a club does not meet the criteria laid out by the league, it can’t register new players.
The league only allows each Spanish club to spend a fraction of what they make in savings on wages. The ratio has been 1-to-2, 1-to-3, and 1-to-4 at different times over the past years, the most frequent being 1-to-4, which means that they can spend up to 25% of what they make or save.
The spending caps changes all the time, but at the end of last season, Barcelona’s cap dropped massively further in the Covid-19 pandemic from £600m to a negative limit of -£144m due to financial losses in the previous campaign of over €400m. Barcelona’s wage bill, and amortization payments, remain around €500m which is greater than their negative limit.
However, amidst Barcelona’s financial crisis, the club was still able to sign new players. FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta himself described Barca as “clinically dead” last year, with a gross debt of €1.3 billion.
In June, he said the club was still recovering as it’s in intensive care. Meanwhile, after Raphinha, Kounde and Lewandowski joined the club for €150 million in combined transfer fees, Laporte said the club was financially okay “out of the hospital.”
Barca were able to acquire these players amidst financial downtrodden, and still expecting more by selling off 25% of their domestic television rights to the investment firm, Sixth Street for 25 years and 24.5% of Barca Studios, their in-house production company, to Socios.com, raising over €600m.
They recently signed a new sponsorship deal with Spotify, and last year, they took out a loan of €500m from Goldman Sachs in order to offset their debts.
Barcelona hoped to put their television rights to sale and a stake in Barca Studios would increase their limit sufficiently and enable them to operate at a 1-to-1 ratio and register all their signings but La Liga has recently told them they are still not there yet, and the aftermath of not meeting the requirement would disallow them from registering all their new signings.
Despite all odds, FC Barcelona president, Joan Laporta is unceasingly working against the clock to make sure all of the club’s new signings can play as the season begins on August 13.
Moreover, some sources suggested to ESPN that there’s a need for Barca to sell more assets. Probably a fourth lever is expected to come in the form of another 24.5% of Barca Studios this week. While another suggested that it wouldn’t still be enough to register all the five new signings.
In order to profer solution to the delayed registration, Barcelona have continued to work on offloading some players like Samuel Umtiti, Martin Braithwaite and Memphis Depay as they have all been advised to find new clubs. However, there’s no assurance that the new signings would play on Saturday.