Spain: Espai Barça funding on hold and even more troubles ahead
source: stadiumdb.com; author: Tobiasz Kowalski
Investors have objected to the terms of financing the Espai Barça project. Unfortunately, these are not the club's only troubles. The 'Caso Negreira' financial scandal is looming on the horizon too. Things are getting hot in Barcelona, and it is not about the coming spring at all.
Laporta facing a harsh reality?
Maybe. Two weeks ago, we reported on FC Barcelona's plans for financing the Espai Barça project, including the upgrade of the Spotify Camp Nou. At the time, the club communicated that Blaugrana intended to finance the project through a €1.5 billion bond issue, which was expected to take around 30 years to repay. Also, FC Barcelona president, Joan Laporta, confirmed then that the funds necessary for the work to begin would be available by March 31 this year. The bonds were certified by Morningstar Sustainalytics and were to be issued on the US market in the Green Bond category. Besides, they were initially rated BBB+ by the Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA).
However, the situation has changed dramatically. First and foremost, Kroll Bond Rating has downgraded its initial rating from BBB+ to BBB. In addition, the agency announced that two of the three tranches would be issued in US $ and then "swapped back to their euro equivalent". This solution alters previous arrangements. As a result, Barça would become more exposed to changes in US interest rates, a deal that investors do not agree with. However, club sources say that the relevant parties are “working to optimise the terms and flexibility of the final financing structure”. Also, FC Barcelona wants to meet the initial deadline for obtaining the first funds, which is the end of March. Thus, there is still a chance of succeeding without any real trouble.
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Other problems of Blaugrana and Espai Barça
The financial turmoil at Espai Barça is not the club's only problem. For the past month, two words have been echoing in both the Spanish and global sports media: "Caso Negreira". That is the name given to a financial scandal starring Barcelona, which so far looks to be one of the biggest in LaLiga history. It arose suddenly, as usually happens in such cases. About one month ago, the media started reporting on FC Barcelona's alleged transfers to Jose Negreira's bank account. This was supposed to take place during Negreira's time as vice president of the Technical Referees Committee. The dealings went on for almost two decades. A total of €7 million euros was transferred to the vice president's account. Will this situation interfere with the ambitious Espai Barça project?
The court has just received an indictment against the club. Time will tell how Barça's actions will be interpreted and possibly what punishment they will face. There is a chance that the suspicious transfers were not a corrupt act and instead of the club, individuals will be held accountable. Then the Espai Barça project, and the Spotify Camp Nou upgrade, should not encounter any additional difficulties. However, the situation may go several other ways, less favourable to the club. The future is unknown, so we can only wait for events to unfold. We will keep you updated on all developments in the Espai Barça project on Stadiumdb.com.