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  • Chelsea Show 2017

Barcelona being primed for sale

Sandro Rosell, the Barcelona president, has criticised the foreign ownership of major Premier League clubs, saying that while he is in charge his club, which is owned by its 180,000 members, will "never, ever be for sale".

Rosell said at the International Football Arena conference in Zurich that clubs should be mutual "associations" owned by their members, rather than companies owned by a single individual. He suggested the reason Barcelona sold their shirt sponsorship for the first time, controversially to Qatar, whose sports investment arm paid £140m for five years' rights, was due to competition with owners putting excessive money into their clubs.

The sceptics could see this as the first step to providing a club with a strong balance sheet ahead of finding suitable suitors.

"It is a pity," Rossell said of overseas club ownership. "I don't like it but it's happening. It's the open market. In the Premier League there are no more clubs to be sold so now they [overseas investors] are coming to Spain. It has gone so far now, I do not think anything can be done about it.

Nic Coward, the Premier League's general secretary, speaking on the same panel, defended the open market approach that has led to England's biggest clubs being majority owned by single individuals based abroad.

"We operate an entirely neutral attitude to different models of ownership," he said.

The logic of £473m drained out of Manchester United in interest, bank fees and charges to pay for the 2005 takeover by the Glazer's was questioned.

Coward added "Clearly the Glazers' model at Manchester United is legitimate, because they have not breached any rules."

Coward argued that the TV income sharing arrangements put in place in 1992 when the then First Division clubs broke away from the Football League to form the Premier League, had laid the foundations for success and popularity.

In both countries TV revenue is key, Barcelona and Real Madrid keep 66% of La Liga's total television income, leaving just over one-third to be shared between the other 18 clubs.

Clearly there is no equality in either country and the top clubs will always be seen as potential targets.


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