Barcelona, World Cup Top Scorer's Club, Seeks Loan to Pay Players' Wages

Barcelona, which added World Cup top scorer David Villa this offseason, is negotiating a 150 million- euro ($188.6 million) bank loan after falling behind with salary payments to players. The soccer club denied it’s bankrupt.

The 2009 European champion hopes to secure the loan in a few days, Barcelona President Sandro Rosell said, according to the team Web site. Rosell, who replaced Joan Laporta last week, didn’t identify the banks the club is negotiating with or name players affected by the wage delay.

“We have to finance” our short-term obligations such as wages, Rosell said, adding the team also plans to trade defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy back to Shakhtar Donetsk for 15 million euros, 10 million less than it paid for him in August 2009. Club members “can relax,” Rosell added. “The club isn’t bankrupt.”

Last week, Barcelona said it became the world’s biggest sports team by sales, overtaking Real Madrid. Revenue rose 16 percent to 445.5 million euros for the year through June 30 following its 2009 Champions League title. Net income was 9 million euros.

Spanish soccer clubs are under pressure from spiraling payroll costs, two years of recession and a credit crunch, according to a study last month by Barcelona University professor Jose Maria Gay. On June 16, Mediaproduccion SL, owner of the broadcast rights for the domestic league, said it sought bankruptcy protection.

TV Deal

Barcelona’s seven-year, 1 billion-euro contract with Mediapro through 2013 isn’t secured by a bank guarantee, unlike Real Madrid’s accord, Rosell said. While Barcelona has had assurances from Mediapro, concern over the contract remains, Rosell said, according to the website.

The team’s costs soared the last year as it paid out 40 million euros in bonuses to players and coaches after winning several trophies, the team said last week.

Barcelona, which is owned by its members, acquired Villa from Valencia for 40 million euros in May. He has scored five World Cup goals in five games.

Rosell played down speculation that the club is poised to sign Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas, even though he said “everyone knows he wants to come here.”

He “denied adamantly” that there was any possibility of Barcelona paying 50 to 60 million euros for the midfielder. Publicity about the possible deal was “the worst thing that could have happened,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Duff in Madrid aduff4@bloomberg.net

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