Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has conceded the influx of money coming into the Premier League has him concerned.
In an interview with BBC Sport’s Dan Roan, Bartomeu opened up on a host of intriguing topics, including a possible Camp Nou extension and the idea of a UEFA Champions League "wildcard."
However, the Premier League's bumper television deal—set to bring £5.136 billion to English football’s top flight next season—demands Bartomeu's focus. He admitted the amount of money coming into the division has him apprehensive.
“Premier League teams will have an incredible financial situation from now on and we are worried,” he said.
Although Barcelona are no paupers, the injection of money in the top flight will give English sides even more clout in the transfer market, meaning they can potentially offset the allure of a team such as the Blaugrana with a stellar financial package.
With the television contracts structured differently in La Liga, where money is not distributed evenly like in England, it means teams in the division will have to be creative in their ways to compete, even a club such as Barcelona. It’s something Bartomeu has admitted his club will have to look at:
We have to do our best to increase our revenues and our financial situation to make the talent of our teams stay with us. That is why I am so worried and we are working on this. We want to keep the talent at home.
None of our players said they want to leave. Most get better economical offers, but our players are not in Barcelona for the money... they are there because of the football and the fans' commitment.
To ensure this is the case, the club may have to look at exploring new avenues, including the naming rights for the stadium.
Indeed, Bartomeu admitted there “may be controversy” if the club looks to acquire “title rights holders” for the Camp Nou as Barca seek to facilitate an expansion. He suggested that the club’s members will be able to vote on such an issue, though.
As Roan noted, it has been reported that Barcelona are seeking to increase the capacity of the famous stadium, which holds a staggering 99,750. They will need to raise £327 million in order to press on with such plans.
Of course, one of the easiest ways for Barcelona to make a massive dent in that kind of figure is by selling off one of their prized assets, of which they have many.
Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez are the three finest players in the world at the moment, and should Barca seek to sell one of those superstars in the window, they’d recoup a significant amount of money. But Bartomeu, as aforementioned, doesn’t want to entertain the possibility of cashing in on any of this trio and has praised their magnificent play effusively.
“We are very happy with him," said Bartomeu of Suarez, who is the club’s top scorer this term. "We knew he was an incredible player and he has been better than expectations.”
The Uruguayan, according to the Barca president, has made this front three click, too: “Right now, we are happy because we have the best players in the world. Messi is with us, Neymar is an incredible player of the future, but Suarez brought the balance to them. Together, this trident is incredible. The fans of Barcelona have never seen players do this.”
As we can see here courtesy of MisterChip, the three attackers are reaching remarkable standards with their goalscoring:
Each MSN member has scored 15+ goals in the first 25 La Liga games. Previous trio who achieved that: Puskas, Di Stefano and Del Sol in 1961— MisterChip (English) (@MisterChiping) February 20, 2016
Bartomeu also offered some intriguing thoughts on the prospect of Champions League wildcards, which could see big names handed a reprieve in the competition should they miss out via domestic qualification:
"Sometimes, for the interest of football, why not give wildcards like in tennis?" he said. "Sometimes the top players don't qualify and are given wildcards for the interest. This can happen in football. Sometimes, clubs have a bad season and it is a big punishment to not play in the Champions League."
The Premier League television deal is likely to have a profound effect on the game next summer and in the seasons beyond. It’s going to be fascinating to see just how established elite sides away from England, like Barcelona, fare in the market if they are unable to match the riches on offer and just how much of an allure they have in the face of such financial might.
That they’re considering selling the naming rights for the stadium is a sign that the club are concerned, especially as it’s something that will rile traditionalists associated with Barca. But if they’re to continue to keep up with the breakneck pace of modern football, then certain sacrifices are going to have to be made.