Spanish giants FC Barcelona may now be forced to stand in the face of complete capitulation while being erased from the footballing landscape as the Catalan club will now face its time in the Spanish courts in the wake of information that came to light directly linking the club to a refereeing scandal.
The legendary Spanish club has been charged with bribery and is now at risk of bankruptcy as a judge allows proceedings to move to jury trial surrounding illegal payments in the value of €7.7 to former vice-president of the Spanish refereeing committee, José María Enríquez Negreira, between 2001 and 2018.
Now, per reports from The Telegraph’s Sam Wallace, Barcelona faces the possibility of a ban from football which undoubtedly would see them fail to dodge the cataclysm of bankruptcy due to a suspension from trading.
Wallace’s report states “Barcelona face a bribery case in the Spanish courts over a refereeing scandal that could potentially lead to the club being banned from football, at a time when their finances are at their most precarious and the Nou Camp has been demolished.”
“The last obstacle to a jury trial for Barcelona’s alleged illegal payments to José María Enríquez Negreira, the former vice-president of the Spanish refereeing committee, was removed on Thursday by a judge who had examined the public prosecutor’s case against the club and key individuals.”
“Judge Joaquin Aguirre Lopez ruled that the trial would go ahead over the payments of €7.7 million to Negreira between 2001 and 2018, for what the club claim were “technical reports” on referees. The club themselves have been named among the defendants as well as former presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu, Sandro Rosell, and Negreira’s son Javier Enríquez.”
“If found guilty, the sentences for the individuals could be between three and six years in prison. Barcelona themselves could be suspended from trading as a professional football club, which would likely plunge the 124-year-old member-owned entity into bankruptcy.”
“In Aguirre Lopez’s remarks on the case, he said that he considered José María Enríquez Negreira to have been a public servant at the time of the alleged offenses, which makes the charge of bribery more serious. The judge also said that he believed the case demonstrated the club obtained advantages from referees. It will be for a jury, nine people under Spanish law, to decide.”
“Barcelona is rebuilding the Nou Camp, which was knocked down over the summer to make way for the Espai Barca complex, although there have been suggestions in the Spanish media of nervousness among the 20 or so investors in the €1.5 billion (£1.3 billion) project. While none have spoken publicly about their concerns over the prospect of a guilty verdict for the club in the Negreira trial, the collapse of the new stadium financing would leave Barcelona without a home of their own.”
“In addition to the debt assumed to build the stadium, there is around a further €1.5 billion owed to creditors that has been accumulated over recent presidencies. That includes the sale of some €700 million worth of future income streams last summer that funded the building of the team that won the league title under Xavi Hernandez last season.”
“Although the club’s exact liabilities are not known it is understood that the United States investment bank Goldman Sachs is Barcelona’s biggest creditor. While president Joan Laporta is the elected leader of the club it is clear that the creditors are now effectively in charge.”