MADRID (AP) — Barcelona’s spending power has been reduced again, with the club heading into the next transfer window more than 144 million euros ($157 million) over its limit, the Spanish league said Monday.
Barcelona is the only club in the first and second divisions of Spain with a negative spending limit after the league updated its figures following the winter transfer window. Real Madrid is at the top of the list with a cap of 739 million euros ($809 million).
Barcelona’s limit has been gradually reduced the past few seasons because of its financial struggles. It was at 97 million euros ($106 million) last year. The amount was further reduced this time because the club’s losses were nearly 240 million euros ($262 million) greater than what the league had estimated.
The Catalan club will still be able to sign new players if it wants, but it will be tied to further spending restrictions. Its ability to add players will depend on how much the club will be able to save and earn in general.
Each Spanish league club has a different salary cap calculated based on a series of factors that include revenues, costs and debts. It is proportional to roughly 70% of a club’s revenues.
Sevilla had the second-highest cap at 200 million euros ($219 million), about 30 million euros ($32 million) more than of Atlético Madrid’s limit. The first-division club with the smallest limit other than Barcelona was Levante at 32 million euros ($35 million).
Barcelona, which couldn’t keep Lionel Messi in the squad at the end of last season in part because of its spending limit, added four players during the winter transfer window — Ferran Torres, Dani Alves, Adama Traoré and Pierro-Emerick Aubameyang.
Club president Joan Laporta refinanced the club’s debt and worked to reduce salaries by about 200 million euros ($219 million). Gerard Piqué, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba were among some of the players who had their salaries reduced recently.
Most of the blame for Barcelona’s financial struggles has been linked to former president Josep Bartomeu, who resigned in 2020 — denying wrongdoing — amid accusations of irregularities in his administration and a fallout with Messi. The club’s debt reached 1.3 billion euros (nearly $1.4 billion) at one point.
Barcelona was reportedly close to a new sponsorship and naming rights deal with streaming company Spotify at the end of this season to replace Rakuten, which could help improve the club’s spending limit significantly.
Barcelona was one of the clubs that didn’t accept taking part in the league’s deal with private equity company CVC to boost the clubs’ finances, saying that ultimately it would not be beneficial for the Catalan club.
Barcelona is back in the second tier of European soccer after nearly two decades contending among the elite in the Champions League.
The team has been playing well recently after a tough start to the season. It is in the round of 16 of the Europa League and moved up to third place in the Spanish league after being near midtable early on.