Barcelona on Thursday announced they had sold 10 percent of their Liga television rights for 25 years to U.S. investment group Sixth Street for 207.5 million euros ($215.5 million).
“Sixth Street will initially invest €207.5 million and in return will receive 10% of the Club’s LaLiga TV rights for the next 25 years,” Barca said in a statement.
The deal will allow Barcelona, beset by financial problems, to end the fiscal year that closes this Thursday in profit.
Catalan sports daily Sport reported that otherwise Barca “would have ended the financial year with a loss of 150 million euros.”
“With this transaction, FC Barcelona generates a total capital gain of €267 million for the current season,” said the club statement.
Barcelona, along with Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao, opted out of a deal in January with another American fund, CVC, to buy between 8 and 11 per cent of the broadcasting and commercial rights for the top two Spanish divisions for 50 years.
In May, Real agreed a deal with Sixth Street and Legends which it called “a premium experiences company for sports and live venue organisations, for 30 percent of revenue “sports and live venue organisations” at the Bernabeu Stadium, which is being redeveloped, for 20 years for 360m euros.
Last August, Joan Laporta, who returned as Barcelona president the previous November, said an audit had uncovered total club debts of 1.35 billion euros. The club had let Lionel Messi leave last June saying they could not afford to keep him even at a reduced salary.
On Thursday, Laporta welcomed his club’s deal in a statement.
“We are activating economic levers and executing on our patient, sustainable, and efficient strategy to strengthen the club’s financial footing,” he said.
Sixth Street CEO Alan Waxman, was also quoted in the statement.
“We believe in the strategy Joan Laporta and FC Barcelona are implementing and are proud that one of the most celebrated clubs in football has chosen us to be its partner and capital solutions provider,” Waxman said.
The sale of television rights was one of two “levers” approved last week by a meeting of club members to raise revenue quickly so Barcelona could make signings for the coming season.
The assembly authorised the transfer of up to 25 percent of the television rights income for up to 25 years, which means that Laporta can still seek a buyer for the remaining 15 percent.
The members also approved the sale of 49.9 percent of its licencing and merchandising division, BLM.
“We will once again have positive funds,” Laporta told the members when he asked them to vote for the measures.
“We will repay our debt in a reasonable way and we will be able to make the necessary investments to make our teams more competitive.”