Joan Laporta prevails over the skeptics

Joan Laporta prevails over the skeptics

BarcelonaBarça has informed the RFEF that next season its first football team will play at the Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium. It is the preliminary step for the Spanish body to raise the decision to UEFA, the organizing body of the next Champions League, that the club will play next season if it does not receive any ban due to the investigation into the Negreira case. The entity presided over by Joan Laporta has completed a procedure that is not normally news, but which in this case means that the comprehensive reform works of the Camp Nou will in principle meet the planned schedule and, therefore, will begin this June from by Limak, the Turkish construction company that won the competition at the beginning of January.

The news came hours after the Barça board met on Thursday at the Camp Nou to mainly discuss the financing agreement for the most important heritage project in its history. Although there were managers who were betting on slowing down the works or outright freezing them due to the complicated financial situation, President Laporta, a firm supporter of raising the 1.5 billion euros despite the fact that the club is not in good standing and is experiencing a severe crisis reputational due to the Negreira case and the impossibility of registering new files, obtained the green light from the board to go ahead with the credit operation with Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan.

The club’s intention is for the financing to be closed in three installments with an interest in no case exceeding 6% and subject to downward revision as the years pass and the Camp Nou, already renovated, responds to income expectations. The agreement is highly anticipated, but not yet signed. It will be when the investors validate it at the behest of the placing entities, who already know that Barça wants the interest to deflate over the years. Only at this moment, according to the Camp Nou, will the details of the operation be explained.

One of the doubts that exists at the moment is whether the 1,500 million that will be made available will also include the money required for the construction of a new Palau Blaugrana. The credit ratings that KBRA has released so far did not provide for any specific items for the pavilion, the construction of which is expected to cost more than 400 million. If he confirmed that the funding is exclusively for the Camp Nou, there are already members willing to contest it, since it would not correspond to what was approved.

Limak, winner for price and speed of works

The fact that Barça had notified the football authorities that the first team would play in Montjuïc was a sign that the criteria of Laporta and his closest collaborators were imposed internally. The Barcelona executive president is part of the group of managers who believe that Espai Barça is 100% irreplaceable and that it must be carried out in the short term even if the economic framework is not favorable. “It has to be done, since we have been behind schedule for too many years,” he often repeats. In fact, the main argument for awarding the work to Limak was precisely the speed it promised to finish the work quickly enough so that the Catalan institution could celebrate its 125th anniversary at Camp Nou in November 2024. The rest of the competing construction companies (Ferrovial and Acciona and FCC, from the IBEX-35) not only did not ensure such an ambitious schedule, but also raised the bill for the project.

If Limak’s victory already caused dissension within the board, starting with the resignation of Jordi Llauradó as manager responsible for Espai Barça, the club’s delicate financial situation, added to the reputational crisis due to the Negreira case and the ‘increase in interest rates, the last few weeks have brought more doubts about the project. This framework of uncertainty has caused several members of the dome to ask for prudence when activating the planned plans. Finally, however, the most courageous sector has ended up getting its way, so that Barça will leave the Camp Nou when the season ends and will settle in Montjuïc, the conditioning of which will cost more than 20 million. Of course, all this will be a reality when the financing closes and can be announced.

In this regard, what Barça has officially announced is the renewal of two credit policies with CaixaBank and Banc Santander. The first expires on April 30, 2023 and is extended until April 30, 2026, with a maximum amount of 17 million. And the second ended on May 15, 2023 and is extended until May 15, 2026 with a figure of 32.5 million. These two moves, the interest of which is not known, will help the club to respond to the ordinary operations that it generates on a day-to-day basis.


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