FC Barcelona Looks to Outside Investors as Financial Losses Mount

Cash-strapped FC Barcelona is pitching investors on buying a piece of the club’s off the field businesses in an effort to stem losses from the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an investment teaser sent to potential investors and seen by Bloomberg, the club is proposing carving out its digital assets, worldwide football academies, sports knowledge group and merchandising businesses into a new subsidiary. The team would sell 30% to 49% of the interest in the new entity to outside investors, a first for a club that is wholly owned by its members and who would have to approve any such deal.

Yearly revenue for the new entity is expected to reach 386.1 million euros ($471.4 million) with earnings of 210.7 million euros in 2024-2025, according to the document. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is advising on the potential deal, according to people familiar with the matter.

Barcelona declined to comment about the prospective deal.

FC Barcelona, home to Lionel Messi, has seen its finances particularly hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Debt doubled to 488 million euros and the club reported a decline in revenue of more than 200 million euros in 2020 as fans have been barred from attending matches for almost a year.

In the past few years, Barcelona has been a heavy spender on players, such as Philippe Coutinho, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele, but success in the transfer window hasn’t translated onto the field. Last season, Barcelona finished second to rival Real Madrid in the Spanish league and suffered an embarrassing 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final.

The proposed restructuring comes at a tumultuous time for the world renowned club.

Messi spent much of the off-season agitating to be released from his contract before ultimately resigning to play what is likely his last season at Camp Nou. In the executive offices, the team will hold an election on Jan. 24 to select a new team president after Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned in October after his conflict with Messi soured his relationship with fans.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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