By Rose Onda
The football world was in shock on Thursday evening when Barcelona released a statement that effectively cut ties with Lionel Messi – unarguably the club’s greatest-ever player.
The president of FC Barcelona, Joan Laporta, said at a press conference on Friday that despite Messi’s status, “We cannot mortgage half a century of television rights to comply with Financial Fair Play.
“I’m not willing to do that. We have a club with 122 years of history and it is above any player, even the greatest player in the world.”
The Thursday press release had tried to explain the financial circumstances that necessitated the Messi termination.
“Despite FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi having reached an agreement and the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen because of financial and structural obstacles (Spanish Liga regulations).
“As a result of this situation, Messi shall not be staying on at FC Barcelona. Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club will ultimately not be fulfilled,” the statement added.
On Friday, Laporta revealed, “The club’s figures are worrying. We’ve inherited a disastrous situation and the salary bill is 110% of the total income.
“The management of the club has been dire. We have no margin to manoeuvre with salaries. We have to comply with Financial Fair Play. We know the regulations and we have no margin.
“The numbers are worse than what we had been told and what we had predicted based on the official figures.”
“We’ve been happy to have him here, but we aren’t interested in this deal. Barcelona are above everything else and the club has to be protected. We’ve done all we can and we’ve moved on. I’m convinced we can still be successful,” Laporta added.
Messi has been at Barcelona since 2000 and played 738 matches for the Catalans, scoring 672 goals and making 305 assists. With him, Barcelona won 10 La Liga titles and four UEFA Champions League trophies.