Barcelona have sold a 24.5 percent stake in their media arm, activating the fourth of the so-called “economic levers” that they need to fulfil La Liga’s financial regulations and potentially register their new signings.
Orpheus Media, owned by Jaume Roures, have acquired their share in Barça Studios for the sum of €100 million with Barcelona having made the same deal with fan token platform Socios earlier this month. The club had also sold stakes in their television rights to Sixth Street in June and July as they bid to raise the cash that will ease their finances and allow them to incorporate new players into Xavi’s squad.
Barcelona have embarked on an ambitious overhaul of their playing staff this summer despite the crippling debts that president Joan Laporta estimated to be €1.3billion last year. Six new signings were made but the club headed into this weekend’s season opener against Rayo Vallecano unable to register those players, as well as the re-signed Sergi Roberto and Ousmane Dembele, due to La Liga regulations.
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The club did not confirm that this fourth lever would allow them to register every new recruit with La Liga, though this cash injection will naturally make it easier for some new players to formally be available for selection.
A club statement said: “FC Barcelona announces the sale of 24.5% of Barça Studios to the company Orpheus Media, managed by Mr. Jaume Roures, an audiovisual production company with a long history of producing content, for €100 million. The agreement complements the one signed on 29 July with Socios.com and will help to accelerate the growth of the club’s digital, NFT and Web 3 strategy.
“The sale was conducted under authorization of the General Assembly of FC Barcelona Members last October 23. With this investment the strategic partners in Barça Studios show confidence in the value of the project and the future of digital content in the world of sport.”
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A further sale of the Studios had been widely expected but in recent days it had been reported that it would be GDA Luma, run by the president of Cirque du Soleil, Gabriel de Alba, that would be stumping up the nine figure sum. Instead it is Roures, owner of Mediapro, who has taken the stake. The Catalan media mogul reportedly provided the guarantees Laporta needed for his successful bid for the Barcelona presidency in 2021.
A statement on the Medium page of Socios said that, following the sale, Barça Studios would be renamed Barça Digital and Entertainment “to reflect its focus on accelerating the growth of the club’s NFTs and metaverse projects.” Socios added: “The addition of experience of growing global entertainment brands will allow FC Barcelona to accelerate its blockchain and Web3 strategies to provider greater connectivity with its global fan base and continue to grow the club’s network of fan communities and produce revenue streams in new geographies.”
In the more immediate term it could also allow Barcelona to sign Marcos Alonso. The veteran Chelsea left back would join the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde and Franck Kessie after a summer in which Laporta has committed to new signings worth over €150 million. The club would also like to sign Bernardo Silva from Manchester City while their own midfielder Frenkie De Jong is a target for Chelsea and Manchester United.
Speaking to CBS Sports earlier this month, Laporta insisted that selling off long term stakes in the club to facilitate an overhaul of the first team was the right thing to do. “The players we have signed this summer are investments not expenses. And our existing players understand this perfectly. The new signings adjust their salaries to the new structure that we have created and all we ask is the current squad, where possible, do the same.
“People outside the club don’t have all the information. We have to act this way or the club will probably disappear. We are not risking the club. On the contrary. I love Barcelona. So you can imagine, I don’t take any decisions that risk the future of the club and our 122 years of history.”