Right now the reason that is en vogue is the economy, and for Barcelona that is the weapon of choice. In a span of four months what seemed to be the greatest business venture in American soccer history might be going up in smoke. Spanish publications Sport and El País as well as El Nuevo Herald are reporting that the Catalan giants are considering to withdraw their candidacy for an expansion team in the MLS. Barcelona general manager Joan Olivé stated on Friday that the club is willing to be part of the MLS, but the club cannot take risks finances or put in jeopardy their brand name. This is why he stated that the probability of backing out of the operation is “much higher than before” due to the American economic situation. Olivé mentioned that Barca will keep an eye on the economic situation in the United States to see if this model will be feasible or not.
MLS released a statement immediately afterwards that nothing has changed after the statements made by Barcelona brass on Friday.
Barca have to deal with various issues that are a direct cause of the economic crisis in Spain. The club has an 180 million euro debt- down ten million from last year. They also have to try to find a way to increase revenue after that has gone down 1.4 million due to lower attendance and lesser moneys coming from television. During this time, the club has found other options for revenue. Earlier this week, the club signed a new sponsorship deal with UAE-based telecommunications provider Etisalat and restructured their contract with Nike where they will get a larger share of sales revenue.
Olivé mentioned that the club still has time to back out of the deal because the club cannot be a part of “any investment team if we are not sure that their financial structure is solid enough”. The club needs to analyze this along with the doubts that several investors currently as far as this endeavor is concerned. The general manager also stated that Bolivian cellphone magnate Marcelo Claure is also looking at the business proposition as well.
The Catalans, in theory, have 30 percent stake in the club without have to have invested a euro. They would be responsible for sporting and branding aspects of the franchise.
Barcelona are very weary that Miami is a market that is ready to be tapped but they also are knowledgeable of the dark cloud that hangs over the Magic City’s . At the same time they do remember that there was a franchise in that league that folded a few years ago. MLS is scheduled to announce their decision on the cities that will be granted a franchise next month.