Aug 6, 2021

FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta Press Conference on Lionel Messi Leaving the Club: Transcript

RevBlogTranscriptsFC Barcelona President Joan Laporta Press Conference on Lionel Messi Leaving the Club: Transcript

FC Barcelona’s president Joan Laporta held an August 6, 2021 transcript on iconic player Lionel Messi deciding to exit the club. Read the full transcript here.

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Joan Laporta: (05:13)
[crosstalk 00:05:13] Good morning, everyone. I’m here to explain the situation, the situation we are breached in negotiations with Leo Messi. First of all, I would like to say, the inheritance that we have received is awful, is dreadful. The salary mass is 110% of the total income for the club. We don’t have any margin in terms of salary. The rules and regulations of the Spanish LaLiga is regulated by a financial fair play. We don’t have any margin. We knew that when we got to the club, but I have to say that when we got to the club, the numbers that had been presented to us after the first conclusions of the audit and our analysis, those numbers are a lot worse than those that were exposed initially, and those that we were working with. That means that the losses are a lot more elevated than what we had expected. What we’re spending is a lot more than we expected. And the current contracts mean that we have this salary mass of great magnitude, and it allows us no margin. This is all tied to fair play, the financial fair play, as you know, and LaLiga doesn’t follow the criteria of cash. That means that that’s why we couldn’t fit in the first contract that we had agreed to with Leo Messi, and I can explain it to you if that’s what you would like.

Joan Laporta: (08:06)
Then in order to have that fair play Barce had to agree to an operation that meant that the club, would affect the club for the next 50 years in terms of television rights. And that has meant that when I have to make the decision, I can’t make a decision that will affect the club for the next 50 years. The club is over 100 years old and it’s above every everyone and everything. Even above the best player of the world, the best player who’s been with us over the last few years. And we will always thank him for everything he’s done for us. The club goes over players, coaches, presidents. I wanted to make this little introduction, and I will answer all of your questions, but I do want to say that the reasons why we have decided that we have to get to this point of negotiations is that there are objective reasons regarding the economical situation of the club, and an investment of that volume with the contract of Messi was risky.

Joan Laporta: (09:58)
We wanted to assume those risks, all of us in the board of directors, but when we have realized what the real situation the club is after the audit, it meant that we would have put the club in great risk, and the salary mess has a great deal to do with that. There’s no margin after our calamitous situation. I guess the situation that was all down to the previous board of administrators.

Joan Laporta: (10:48)
If we terminate current contracts that also has its risks, and the only way to have that salary margin right now is to accept that operation, an operation that we don’t think is interesting for Barce. We can go into details, but it’s an operation that puts at risk the club for the next 50 years. We understand that we can’t do that. And I want to end this introduction saying that Leo wanted to stay at Barce. We wanted him to stay. The fact that he wanted to stay was the first step that was made. That was a key factor. He wanted to stay. I want to thank everyone who’s been in the negotiation, both on behalf of the club and on behalf of Leo. We’ve been negotiating during these last few months with all the little intricacies of a negotiation, and there were lots of aspects that needed to be negotiated. It needed to be compatible with fair play. It needed to be of a certain duration, because he’s the best player in the world and he has other offers, of course. And after all of this negotiation, this process there comes a moment where you need to say enough.

Joan Laporta: (12:50)
You need to analyze it rigorously with a cold head and look at the numbers. And in the Spanish LaLiga we have to abide by the rules. We think they could be more flexible, but that’s not an excuse. We knew the rules. We knew the regulation, but we couldn’t abide by it because of the inheritance we have. Leo deserves everything.

Joan Laporta: (13:25)
He’s proven that he loves Barce. He has his roots at Barce and in Barcelona. And if you’ll allow me a personal thought, I’m sad, but I’m convinced that we’ve done the best for the interest of football club Barcelona. And now we’ll proceed to the questions. Everyone will get to ask questions.

Speaker 1: (14:11)
Good morning. What is the legacy of Leo Messi at football club Barcelona?

Joan Laporta: (14:22)
Leo’s legacy is excellent. Leo’s made history. He’s the player with the most success in the history of the club. He’s been the reference of an era which has been splendid, the best era of Barce’s history, up until today. I hope we can overcome this situation. A new era starts now. There’ll be a before and after Leo, as there was with other great players in the history of Barce. I wasn’t alive for the era of [inaudible 00:15:13], but I was there for Johan, and Leo Messi goes along those lines.

Joan Laporta: (15:23)
He’s given us lots of joy, lots of sporting success, lots of images that will go down in history and we need to be eternally thankful to him.

Speaker 2: (15:45)
Hello, president. You’ve commented the limit of salary. There’ve been talks of payers leaving to create that space. And is this situation irreversible? Can the situation be overturned and Messi stay at Barce?

Joan Laporta: (16:12)
I don’t want to generate false hope, and during the course of negotiations we’ve known that the players had other offers and there was a time limit, both for us because LaLiga starts shortly and for them as well, because he needs some time. Because if fair play continues to be rigid, the player also needs some time to see what he’s going to do and evaluate his situation and look at other options. We’ve been at it for two months and we’ve gone through different stages. The first agreement was two years that would be paid in five. And Leo was in agreement with them. He was always present in the negotiations and he tried to make it easy for us. So the first offer was two years of salary to be paid in five. And when we thought that that would be allowed in the regulations of fair play, the criteria of cash came into play, and it’s not allowed here, whereas it is allowed in other countries. So it’s all part of a process. LaLiga also had its pressures because there are other clubs that want regulations and rules to be abided by, then we’d agreed to a five-year contract, which was also accepted by Leo, even though we were all thinking of two more years, we all agreed though.

Joan Laporta: (18:28)
We were all thinking of two years. And then if he wanted more, we could sit and negotiate. But two years at Barce is what we all wanted. We wanted the era post Messi, the one starting today, we wanted that to start in two years, but taking into account the circumstances we’ve had to bring that forward. We all wanted to enjoy his talent, his magic playing at Barce, but at the moment it can’t be. So when we did that five-year contract that we thought would be allowed by the fair play regulations, and I had insinuated this in a convincing way, that this would be allowed, after a technical analysis by the LaLiga commission, we found out that this contract wouldn’t be valid within those regulations.

Joan Laporta: (19:50)
And now the situation is that the only way was to accept an operation, LaLiga’s operation, one that is not in Barce’s best interest. We were going to receive some money, but we think that receiving that money, accepting that money, but affecting our television rights for the future is something that we can’t accept. And Barce goes above players, coaches, and presidents.

Speaker 3: (20:36)
So do we understand that the reason why Messi is not continuing is an economical reason? And do we understand the salary mass as the whole of the dressing room, the whole of the team? Did other players not accept a reduction in salary?

Joan Laporta: (21:04)
The ratio that we have in the salary limit is four to one, so it’s bring in 25 million in salary, we had to release 100. That’s a lot of players and a lot of reduction. The direction of football is working intensely.

Joan Laporta: (21:29)
In terms of trying to liberate some of that salary mass, with some players, we’ve reached agreements, and with others who we’re working with, it’s not an easy process. Those are contracts that are current contracts. Some players had already accepted a salary reduction. They’d already restructured it in previous negotiations. It’s not easy.

Joan Laporta: (22:13)
Maybe we’ll have to make other decisions, but they’re not a guarantee of anything. It won’t be a guarantee of being the right solution. It’s an uneasy situation, a risky situation for the club, and it all requires time.

Joan Laporta: (22:39)
What is true is that with what we were counting on for Leo, the salary mass would have been 110% compared to the income of the club. That’s not sustainable. That’s why we’ll continue to work along these lines. Salary mass has us tied right now. There were measurements that were made in the past that restrict our situation right now.

Joan Laporta: (23:25)
People ask why can we sign [Elcun 00:23:28]? Why can we sign Emerson? Why can we sign Memphis? Because these are players who have come to Barca accepting certain conditions, in terms of salary. We have to thank them for that. The arrival of one of these players isn’t comparable to what it would have meant to formalize those agreements we had reached with Leo Messi, in terms of fair play.

Speaker 4: (24:12)
Before, you were asked if the situation could be overturned, but can Barca make new signings at the moment, or is it not possible to sign new players with or without Messi?

Joan Laporta: (24:36)
I insist, I don’t want to create false hope. This negotiation has ended, and it has brought us here without being able to formalize those agreements because of the salary limit, and La Liga, and it’s respectable. It is not flexible in terms of widening that salary limit. If they did do it, we would have to accept that operation that I insist the club is over everything, and we can’t affect those broadcasting rights for half a century.

Joan Laporta: (25:21)
It’s not only that. There are other aspects of this agreement, in terms of selling the rights to 10% of La Liga that we just don’t see very clearly, so we can’t create false hope right now. Going from there, our motivation is great. We have great motivation, me and the other members of the boards of directors. This has been a very complicated process. There were lots of aspects to take into account.

Joan Laporta: (26:09)
Having said all of this, we are more motivated than ever, players, coach, coaching staff, all of us, including the board of directors and your president. There will be demands on us, and we’re up for the challenge. We’re more motivated than ever for Barca without Messi to continue to be successful and give us all the joy we need.

Joan Laporta: (26:49)
It’s obviously sad that the situation is what it is with Messi, and the situation with COVID, and we can’t pay homage to him in a way that we would have wanted to do in two years, with fans in the stands. It could have been done in a nicer way, but now the circumstances are what they are. So, it’s very sad.

Joan Laporta: (27:26)
Apart from that, when you think about the decision being made, in terms of Barca being above everything, and preserving the club’s interest above everything, we have 122 years of history. We’ve been through everything. We’ve always come through. Now, with more motivation than ever, we want the post-Messi era to be very successful, and I’m convinced it will be.

Speaker 5: (28:07)
You talked about the inheritance that has made things very complicated. There was six months to deal with that. In what way do you think you’ve made false promises to the fans? Do you feel responsible for those election promise?

Joan Laporta: (28:33)
No, no, no, I don’t. I said this several times. I said that we would do everything possible for Messi to stay at Barca within the economical situation of the club. We reached an agreement with Messi, but we weren’t able to formalize it because of the economical situation that the club is going through, which means that we can’t inscribe the player under that agreement because of the salary limit.

Joan Laporta: (29:18)
Is anyone guilty of this situation? I mean, I don’t want to go on and on about the inheritance and the awful decisions that were made in the past, but we haven’t had six months. We’ve had less, because the audit numbers have just come out. One thing is they’re numbers that were presented to us initially, but now, we’ve realized that the situation is even worse than we expected. We’ve gone from bad to worse. The first conclusions of the audit confirm that.

Joan Laporta: (30:12)
I had said that the negotiations were going well, because it did seem like La Liga was going to be more flexible with fair play. The player, Messi, has behaved in excellent manner. We reached an economical agreement. The players always made it easier for us, so that’s why we were saying that things were going well, but at one point, we needed to say enough, and say, “In order to have fair play, we need to do this, or we need to make a great, bigger effort that will put the club at risk.” The answer is that we couldn’t keep going with this, and we needed to make a decision. That’s what we did.

Speaker 6: (31:20)
You were talking about terms and limits. The transfer limit doesn’t end until the 31st, and we’re at the 6th of August. Is there a situation in which we’re trying to put pressure on La Liga? Can the situation be addressed with other players, like Coutinho, Umtiti, Griezmann, Dembélé? Is all of this a situation in which we’re trying to put pressure on La Liga?

Joan Laporta: (32:11)
If we made this operation with La Liga, we’ll have some cash income, and we would have 50% more of salary mass, of salary limit, but that doesn’t make the situation better. That didn’t fix the situation. Then, we had to go to that situation which you were talking about, in which we have to address a series of contracts that we can’t break unilaterally, because that is risky.

Joan Laporta: (32:50)
If you add to that that right now we have full knowledge of the situation of the club, with great sadness, we have to make a decision. What we can’t do is just keep prolonging the agony, making things longer. We have the Gamper this Sunday. Then, on the 15th, we’re playing Real Sociedad. We needed to make a decision, and for Leo, they didn’t have a lot more margin.

Joan Laporta: (33:32)
A limit date had been talked about, but we thought it would all be resolved by the month of July. They have their tempers, as well, so I think it’s best to make this decision now, which means a before and after Leo Messi. We’ve advanced that decision two years, which is when we thought that would be the time that Leo would still be playing for us.

Speaker 7: (34:15)
Could you explain to us what has happened in the last few hours? When did you know that this would not be possible? When did you talk to Messi, or Messi’s father, and tell him that he could not continue the club?

Joan Laporta: (34:29)
Two days ago, I reached the conclusion that this, we had to say enough, that we couldn’t do it. Yesterday, we had our last conversations with Leo’s father. The negotiations have been very intense over the last two months. I want to congratulate all of the parts of the negotiation. There had been agreements that couldn’t be made because of external reasons, but we can’t say that we didn’t know about fair play, we didn’t know about our salary limit. We thought we would get more flexibility, but it was extremely difficult, because we knew of the situation because of that inheritance that we have received.

Speaker 8: (35:46)
If the Messi contract would have set the salary mass at 110%, what is the situation now without Messi?

Joan Laporta: (36:05)
Well, everyone’s working on the situation. Now, we have a little bit more margin to see if we can find a solution, but we’re at the limit. Even without Leo, even without Leo, we don’t have margin. The ratio, as I said, is four to one. For every 25 that we bring in, we have to release 100. That’s without Leo. That’s why it was so difficult to fit in that agreement with Leo, and we’d found the solution.

Joan Laporta: (36:53)
We found a solution that was thanks to meetings and phone calls every day, in which we’ve been talking to La Liga, and we thought that La Liga was going to accept our proposal for this contract. But, if you analyzed it, it couldn’t happen. For it to be a reality, we had to accept that agreement that La Liga had reached with the sale of 10% of the rights. Anyway, our decision, my decision is that we can’t put the club at risk.

Speaker 9: (37:58)
I would like to know if that 100%, 110% of salary mass, what is the percentage now without Messi? What is the new effort that La Liga is requiring here? What did La Liga ask as an extra that made the deal impossible to happen?

Joan Laporta: (38:41)
I can’t say the percentage right now. We have to recalculate, but we’re over the salary limit. It’s one thing that the club’s salary mass, the sporting salary mass exceeds 110%, but the other thing is the salary limit. We’re over it without the contract of Leo Messi.

Joan Laporta: (39:10)
It’s not about what La Liga is asking. La Liga asked us to abide by the rules. La Liga wants Leo Messi in La Liga. Of course they do, and I know that, but it’s also true there are clubs that want the rules to be abided by. They can’t make an exception for even if it means that Leo is out of La Liga.

Joan Laporta: (39:48)
They didn’t ask anything. It’s just that they asked us to abide by the rules, because we were over the salary limit that is allowed. That’s as simple as it is. We need to move on. We’re not going to amplify our salary limit by selling our audio visual rights for the next 50 years. No, we’re not going to do that. The decision would have been risky. This is a complicated situation. It could have been done better, maybe, but I’m explaining it as it is.

Speaker 10: (40:55)
You’ve always said that you have a good feeling with Leo Messi, a good relationship with him. You said just a few moments ago that you said that two days ago, you knew that this would be the final decision. Have you had a chance to talk to Leo?

Joan Laporta: (41:16)
Leo wanted to stay, so he’s not happy. We all wanted him to stay, but for him right now, it’s a situation in which he has to confront reality. It’s a reality that can’t be changed, and he knows that I wish him the best wherever he goes, him and his family. Barca is his home. He’s enlarged this club’s trophy list, and we’ll always be thankful.

Joan Laporta: (42:02)
… Trophy list, and we’ll always be thankful.

Speaker 11: (42:13)
Did Jorge Messi ever make any demands that Barce couldn’t meet? And how did you communicate to Javier Tebas, the president of LALiga, that the LaLiga’s major active wouldn’t continue at LaLiga, and how did he take it?

Joan Laporta: (42:29)
Those are personal conversations and I can’t disclose them. In regards to Jorge Messi, he’s had a very correct attitude throughout the negotiations, and they’ve never asked for anything that wasn’t logical in a negotiation. There were ups and downs in negotiations, sporting issues, fiscal issues, but they’ve never put us in a situation in which the contract was impossible. We had reached an agreement, as I said before, but we couldn’t formalize it.

Speaker 12: (43:29)
From what I gather from your responses, you haven’t said 100% that the situation is irreversible. You’ve linked it to financial fair play. If the club received a phone call saying that what they ask is less than what they’ve said, would Leo be able to wear a buzzer shirt next season?

Joan Laporta: (43:55)
Those are all hypothetical situations. They’re not real as of today. And if I’m here today, it’s not because of what may or may not happen. I would have wanted to be here with Leo today, and it was the dream of every [inaudible 00:44:13], but have to live in the real world. I like to dream, but we have to live in the reality. And this is what happens. And I can imagine a lot of things, of course, and there are a lot of things I would like to happen, but right now I understand that is not easy. And regarding the previous question, the salary limit would now be at 95% salary, salary mass would be at 95%.

Speaker 13: (45:05)
This morning did you talk to the players of the team, the first team squad, the captains? What do they think of all of it?

Joan Laporta: (45:11)
I think it was very important to do that. I had already talked to the captains via telephone, and I think it’s very important that we’ve reached this point at the negotiations with leo. Everyone was waiting for Leo to go into the dressing room and start training. And I had to tell them that that’s not going to happen. And we’re starting a new era and it has to be successful. And they’re the protagonists of that, they have to make us proud and they need to prove that we can win without players of the talent of Leo Messi, who’s the most talented player in the world. So maximum professionalism, there’s a clear command coming from the club. We’ve made decisions. We try to make fair decisions, logical decisions.

Joan Laporta: (46:29)
And I think that this was an important moment. I saw their faces. I saw the captain’s faces. I’ve asked them to give an extra, give a plus for themselves. I want the team spirit to be high, very strong. The captains need to lead by example. They need to lead this process of this new era, bringing in these young players who are proving to be very talented and the new signings. We need to explain to them that Barce is a club of 122 years of history, and we’ve gone through different moments, different areas, and this is their opportunity now. From north to south, from east to west, they’ll have the protagonism that is required and they’ll have all the support from the club to be successful.

Speaker 14: (47:46)
Taking into account that you just said the salary mass is 95%, can we inscribe the new signings for this season, the four new signings?

Joan Laporta: (47:58)
Regarding our calculations, yes. If we’d inscribed that deserved salary of Messi, that salary is obviously different to the salaries that we’re talking about now. There’ve been a certain amount of circumstances that allow them those salaries to be within the salary limits. I hope there’ll be no problems because these players have made an effort.

Speaker 15: (48:42)
You’re just saying now that the salary mass is 95% compared to the income. Does this still mean that the club has to negotiate a salary reduction with some of the players in the first team? And how does it affect that Real Madrid were able to achieve a 10% salary reduction, and it hasn’t been able to be done here? And in terms of the economical situation, do you think that the people, the fans are aware that not having the salary reduction means that the club will end this season with losses once again?

Joan Laporta: (49:42)
Well, last season, we’ll end it with serious losses, double what we had predicted, and we’ll give the numbers when it’s appropriate. But our provision in terms of income is optimistic. We have lots of options. We have investors. We have different sponsors that want to sponsor different teams that aren’t sponsored yet. So we’re hopeful with the income. And in terms of the salary mass in football, it is still recommended that the sporting salaries compared to the total income of the club should be at 65%, 70%. So there’s still a lot of work to be done. There’s still a lot of work to be done. The problem is not just the salaries. It’s also the previous investments that were made, and that’s the inheritance that we have.

Speaker 16: (51:21)
In regards of the mortizations that you were talked to, they can’t be waived?

Joan Laporta: (51:39)
We need to reconduct the situation in terms of salary. Well, of course we need to do it, having just said that percentage that I said. We need to rationalize the salaries and we need to boost the income. There are lots of ways of boosting the income. Barce has lots of possibilities. We can generate that. And that would be without affecting our television rights for the next years.

Speaker 17: (52:36)
Can you give us details on the audit? You said that the losses were double what you have predicted. Could you give us some of the main numbers?

Joan Laporta: (52:54)
That will have its moment. We will give those numbers. We’ll offer our members all of the conclusions of the audit and of the due diligence process that have been done as well regarding different parts of the club [inaudible 00:53:16], BLM, merchandising. Those conclusions have led us close last seasons exercise the way we have, but I can’t do it now in this press conference. I can’t offer those numbers here, but it is true that the situation in which the club is at the moment because of that disgraceful inheritance that we have received with debt that isn’t sustainable, all of that has been put on the scale in terms of making the decision with Leo Messi.

Joan Laporta: (54:24)
We’ll do that before the assembly. Right now, we’re in the process, which we’re trying to gather resources to restructure our debt. And we’ve seen the interest, the global interest there is for Barce. We can see that in the volume of resources that we’ve managed to gather, and that will all be explained in detail. And that’s good news. Good news in terms of giving us a horizon in which we can try to turn the situation around, but right now, the situation, the reality is another.

Speaker 18: (55:34)
After yesterday’s announcement, have you started to think of how the Leo Messi tribute is going to be? You said that it probably can’t be done at the stadium with a full stadium, but will there be a press conference with a player with the 35 titles? Is that what the club wants to do?

Joan Laporta: (56:01)
The tribute to Leo Messi will be the tribute that Leo Messi wants and whatever he likes, whatever he wants to do. If it was up to us, we would pay tribute to Leo Messi every day for what he’s done for Barce. We know of the circumstances we’re in right now in terms of the pandemic, in terms of the economical situation, in terms of the moment of the preseason. And that makes it complicated. But I hope that one day we can see the tribute that Leo Messi deserves.

Speaker 19: (56:43)
Do you know if PSG are interested in Messi? Which team will [inaudible 00:57:01] Messi to see Messi play?

Speaker 18: (57:05)
I would like to see him play at Barce, but whatever he does is up to him. We all have to ask him. I will not answer that.

Speaker 19: (57:20)
Do you think PSG are interested?

Joan Laporta: (57:26)
Well, I don’t know that, but it has always been said that they have options.

Speaker 20: (57:42)
Tuesday, we read headlines saying that the club wanted to announce Messi’s renewal on Thursday. If only this that you have talked about has been the change in the last few hours, did Messi and his father come to Barcelona to sign, or did they come knowing what the situation was? And also is the team closed? Will there be someone assigning to replace Leo?

Joan Laporta: (58:24)
No, the first team squad isn’t done, isn’t closed. The market closes on the 31st of August, so lots of things can happen. Both parts knew the circumstances regarding the first question. We were talking about fair play. We already had the agreement, and if we’d have been able to fit it in with the fair play regulations, it was done two years to be paid in five. We were all happy with it. And we were also happy with the five-year deal.

Joan Laporta: (59:09)
We even shook hands. But then the reality was that that contract didn’t fit in those regulations. Only if we accepted that agreement that LaLiga had reached. And we reached the conclusion that no, it couldn’t be. From there, everyone started to reevaluate the situation. What is the situation now? What are the circumstances now? What can we do? What can’t we do? We considered that we can do it because the club comes first. And the other part evaluated their options. And yesterday, after a conversation that had been had the day before, we decided the best thing was to make the decision. We make decisions here and we’ll continue to make them on behalf of Barce. We make them. And that’s how it went.

Speaker 21: (01:00:39)
What you just said, Jorge Messi came to Barcelona yesterday knowing that that the agreement will be impossible to be reached. What was the situation in that meeting? Will you call Messi also?

Joan Laporta: (01:01:06)
I talked to Jorge yesterday. We talked the day before as well. I’ve been sending messages to Leo. He was on holidays Ibiza. The limit to sign this deal was Thursday, and the way the circumstances have gone have led to this, to this situation and this solution. And now, yeah, it’s been talked about. I said that we could do a joint press conference, but I understand the situation, but I understand that he’s disappointed. Both parts are disappointed. We’ve worked a lot to try and achieve it, and we couldn’t do it. There are causes that won’t allow us to do it.

Joan Laporta: (01:02:23)
What it doesn’t allow this agreement to be formalized are causes that we can’t change. We can’t change them. And there are things that can’t be done because it would be out of fair play.

Speaker 22: (01:02:42)
Javier Tebas has just tweeted. The tweet says that the agreement for 50 years doesn’t affect the club for …

Speaker 23: (01:03:00)
… for 50 years.

Joan Laporta: (01:03:10)
Hello Javier. I would say that we don’t interpret the situation like this. There were conversations yesterday between our high executives and those who are leading this based agreement with La Liga. And they didn’t give us the explanations that we felt were convincing enough. And there are risks that I don’t want to assume, for the good of the club I preside. Here we’re talking about defending the club and it meant giving up part of the television rights for 50 years. And operations that are done for 50 years, for the next 50 years, I don’t think we have to do them. I would also say to Javier that the total of the operation with CVC is a lot inferior to what we feel the value is of La Liga at 10%. And that’s what I have to say.

Speaker 24: (01:05:05)
How do you interpret the silence of the first team players with all this situation?

Joan Laporta: (01:05:12)
I think that the squad, when there’s a player who you’ve played with for so many years and he’s not going to be there anymore, it’s a strange situation with certain sadness. But they’re professionals and they have an opportunity now to prove that their talent, which is a lot, can also lead Barca to success. They were waiting to see what would happen and it’s not what they were expecting. But I think they’re starting to understand what the situation is. We have a group of players with great talent. And they want to prove that they are great professionals and that they’re making their dream come true, which is to be a Barca player.

Joan Laporta: (01:06:12)
And now it’s time to go for those challenges that we set ourselves. We want to win those competitions that we take part in. The club, from the presidency and all the board of directors, we’re going to demand professionalism, implication. And we’re going to support our players and our coaching staff in order for them to have everything they need to be able to compete. We’re going to continue to make decisions, trying to be fair and always benefiting the interests of Football Club Barcelona.

Speaker 25: (01:07:16)
Have you analyzed in the last few days, the last few weeks, the impact for the Barca brand in terms of sponsorships, Messi’s departure from the club? And in terms of the losses you talked about before, they’re double what you had expected. We talked about 300, 350. What are they now?

Joan Laporta: (01:07:50)
No, we’d expected losses of 200. So they’re going to be 400, which is a lot. And in regards to sponsorships, we’ll have to work hard and work better in order to explain what Barca is and that we have great talented players. And there will be players who can probably come in and will create that motivation and that expectation in the sponsors to stay linked to Barca. But Messi, in terms of football, Messi had a few more years. But we’ve had to advance our decision and we’re going to have to face our new reality.

Speaker 26: (01:08:54)
Two more questions. [Spanish 01:09:12].

Speaker 27: (01:09:12)
You said you talked to the captain, that you’ve given them your support. We’ve been able to talk to Ronald Koeman and what was his reaction? He had insisted that it was important to renew Messi’s contract.

Joan Laporta: (01:09:29)
I’ve talked to Ronald. I talked yesterday, I talked today. And he’s a man of the club. He’s a great professional. He has the ability to adapt quickly to new situations. And he said that obviously we’re going to go for everything. We’re going to go at it. And not having a player like Messi will obviously be difficult to replace, but he’s motivated. He’s integrated in the club and he wants this new era to be splendid, to be successful. And him and the players need to be the protagonists in that.

Speaker 28: (01:10:29)
If you had to make a list of people guilty of this situation, apart from the previous administration, would you also include La Liga, someone else?

Joan Laporta: (01:10:43)
The list of guilty people. I think that the base of everything is the previous administration’s disastrous inheritance. And it’s a situation that we can’t change from one day to the other. It’s taken us a couple of months to do the audit and we’re at the first conclusions at the moment. There are lots of issues involved. We keep finding out new sources of tons of black holes. But I’ve already said it, let’s look forward. And obviously with the conclusions of the audit, we’ll have to act. What I won’t do is be an unnecessary cooperator in decisions that have been done, some decisions that might even be criminal. And I’m not talking about signings. Some of these decisions, we still find hard to understand. They must have been under a lot of pressure, but that’s all led us to this situation right now. And I don’t want to go down the route of victimism.

Joan Laporta: (01:12:21)
We already knew what the situation was. We knew what the rules were. But they can’t expect us to accept those agreements, which would affect the audio-visual rights of Barca for the next 50 years. And an agreement for which those who are paying would be paying a third of the value that we think La Liga has. I understand that some clubs will accept this, but we’re Barca. And what we won’t do is make decisions that will affect the short term, thinking about the short term, but that will then have an effect on the long term. We won’t do that. We decide, and we’ve decided to say enough. We said enough with La Liga. La Liga will have no doubts in terms of opposition. And that has its consequences. We assume them. But we think the club is above all. FC Barcelona is above all.

Speaker 29: (01:13:48)
In terms of the agreement, you said how you’d been talking about it for a couple of months, working on it. You talked about the five year deal. If there had been a gesture on Messi’s behalf, would it have been possible?

Joan Laporta: (01:14:13)
They’ve done everything that they could do and more than that. It’s not about that. I can’t create false expectation or send a message to the other part knowing that they’ve done everything that they could. It’s a hypothetical, and I don’t want to think about them because I don’t think they’re real. Everyone’s made the efforts that they needed to make. And they have other offers. And they’ve proven to us that he wanted to stay. They wanted to stay even if our offer was inferior to others that he had. So there’s nothing else to say.

Speaker 30: (01:15:23)
[Spanish 01:15:23]. You said before that Messi has other options. Do you know which ones they are? Is Messi going to prioritize offers, leagues from other continents? Or will he be playing in Europe against other Barca rivals?

Joan Laporta: (01:15:45)
You’d have to ask are Leo Messi about that and his agents. I can’t talk about that. I can’t put words in Leo’s mouth. He’s the best player in the world. And logic takes you to think that he has other very good offers. Our offer was the best we could make within our economical possibilities. And we even went further than we could to try and attract the player. And he accepted it but we weren’t able to formalize it because of the salary limit.

Speaker 26: (01:16:31)
[Spanish 01:16:31].

Speaker 31: (01:16:42)
I have a question about CVC. If La Liga’s assembly accepts this, is Barca obliged to move on with it?

Joan Laporta: (01:16:56)
Well, this is a question which has its answer in the air right now. We’re in La Liga, but I don’t know what CVC will do. I think that Real Madrid are also not in agreement. They’re preparing a demand for that agreement to not be put into place. We’ve already said that we don’t see it clearly. We want to talk to CVC. They know what Barca’s position is. They have to evaluate the situation. And we have to act with everything that has happened. And we could oppose the agreement. But we can’t accept money now that will affect us in the future.

Speaker 31: (01:18:10)
[Spanish 01:18:10].

Joan Laporta: (01:18:18)
We can defend ourselves. If you feel that they’re affecting your rights negatively, you have ways to defend yourself. And that’s what we’ll do.

Speaker 32: (01:18:33)
When we talked about the effort of Messi, was there the option of making a symbolic amount of money like Pau Gasol did to come back? Did Messi make enough of an effort in that sense?

Joan Laporta: (01:19:09)
Leo Messi did everything he could and more than that for this agreement to be reached. And there’s nothing negative to say about that.

Speaker 33: (01:19:25)
If you can tell me, at what point did you actually decide that everything was lost? And if you are maybe planning to actually talk to him within the next few hours so something can be arranged before he leaves?

Joan Laporta: (01:19:42)
Well, I’ve been talking to the father. I’ve been messaging with Leo. And the decision is over, it’s done. There is no more margin. And you know that there are economical and financial reasons. And basically, the reason is the financial for pay. We have a limitation. We have a limit referring the sporting salaries. And we exceed this limit. And the agreement that we have reach with the representatives of Leo Messi is not in the margin that we don’t have in this moment. We need time in order to review the financial situation. And the conditions that La Liga requires to have more margin for us is not acceptable. It’s not acceptable because our main reason and our main target is defend the institution. And we don’t want to put in risk Football Club Barcelona.

Joan Laporta: (01:21:10)
It’s a very sad moment for us, but at the same time, we are really motivated in order to start a new era, a new period that I’m sure that will be splendorous in Football Club Barcelona. We are grateful to Leo Messi. And Leo Messi, he has been the best player of the world, the best player of Football Club Barcelona, and better person. But we need to take decisions. My role as a president is take decisions. And we need the world to accept the situation because the Financial Fair Play. We cannot put in the agreement that we reach with Leo Messi in the Financial Fair Play of La Liga. And then the decision is that we have to move forward, we have to start this splendorous period. And I’m sure that our players, our coach, everybody in the club will be really motivated in order to demonstrate that Barca will be a very successful club. And I’m sure that we will give the happiness to the members of Football Club Barcelona and the fans, the Barca fans all over the world.

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