FC Barcelona is saying goodbye to Messi and hello to the Super League

Erasmus School of Economics

Shocking news in the football world: Lionel Messi is leaving Spanish top club FC Barcelona. The club had to make a financial choice: give up the Super League, or its superstar. It became the latter. In an article by Belgian newspaper De Morgen, Thomas Peeters, sports economist at Erasmus School of Economics, says that this choice was perhaps the only one.

Huge debt mountain

Barcelona is in financial trouble for some time now, with a debt estimated at 1.2 billion euros. The salary burden is enormous at the club. 110% percent of the club's income goes to players' salaries. Messi would have been willing to earn only half of his former salary, although this would still amount to a whopping 70 million euros per year. Moreover, Barcelona was aiming for a two-season contract that would be paid out over five years, but with no luck. Even without Messi, the club is sitting on a salary volume of 95% of the club's income.

The club above everything and everyone

‘From the statements of Laporte (president of FC Barcelona) you can tell that the financial situation of the club is very dire,' says Peeters. In addition, the Super League came into play. In the Super League, the twelve permanent top clubs would each receive 260 million euros in starting money, without any underlying conditions. The choice was therefore: either wave goodbye to Messi, or abandon the Super League. According to Laporte, abandoning the Super League would have damaged the club too much, and the club is above everything and everyone. According to Peeters, Messi might have become too expensive anyway. Peeters believes that only a club in Qatar or the United States will be able to bear Messi's wage.

It shows that the Super League is still on the table, despite the fierce criticism it received earlier this year. ‘It may not come in the form proposed, but they don't want to close the door either', says Peeters. ‘La Liga has simply become too small. Italy also has the same problem. The Premier League has driven off the rest. It is understandable that they want to do something about that.'  


Thomas Peeters, Sports Economist

More information

The full article from De Morgen, 7 August 2021, can be downloaded above (in Dutch). 

Or read the article from Sporza, 11 August 2021, here (in Dutch). 

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