Josep Maria Bartomeu admits to Barcelona financial ‘risk’ in passionate defence

Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has launched a defence amid criticism from the club’s current board.

Bartomeu resigned last year amid intense pressure from supporters, and he was replaced by Joan Laporta, who was voted in for his second term as president.

Since Laporta’s arrival, much has been made of the state of the finances left behind by Bartomeu.

In fact, only yesterday Laporta claimed that the situation was the worst the club had ever seen amid a debt of more than €1.3billion.

But on the back of those claims, Bartomeu has launched a defence in an interview with Esport3, admitting he took risks with the salary, but claiming coronavirus is to blame for the extent of the issues.

“In my era we won 22 titles and more other titles in other industries at the club,” he said. “We had profits of 190 million euros, but the situation became complicated because of the Covid-19.

“Our financial position before the Covid was approved by the league and by UEFA.

“Without the Covid, the losses stand at just 50 million.

“I decided to go out and talk because of the series of criticisms against me and against my management, even though I preferred to remain isolated after my resignation.

“They (the current board) can do as many internal audits as they want, but I can assure you that none of our management has stolen anything from the club’s coffers.

“Have we had any other mistakes? Absolutely. I admit that in the matter of salary there was a risk we took.”

In Laporta’s interview on Monday, it was claimed that a legal team is examining the finances, assessing whether legal action can be taken against Bartomeu.

But it seems the former president is confident that while the risks may not have been in the club’s best interests long-term, he did not cross the legal line.

We almost certainly haven’t heard the end of this one.

Tags FC Barcelona Joan Laporta Josep Maria Bartomeu