Jordi Moix, commissioner of the Espai Barça project, has revealed that the expanded Camp Nou stadium is expected to open in 2025 amid delays in part related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview with Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, Moix, who also serves as Barcelona’s financial director, insisted that the Espai Barça project is “more necessary than ever” as the LaLiga club seeks to stay competitive among Europe’s top teams.

Espai Barça is a wide-ranging development plan that will see the capacity of the Camp Nou increase from around 99,000 to over 105,000, with a new roof to also be fitted at the iconic stadium. The project will also see the 7,500-seat Palau Blaugrana arena, which serves as the home of Barcelona’s basketball and handball clubs, be replaced by a new facility.

Last August, Barcelona completed the first phase of the project with the opening of Estadi Johan Cruyff, which serves as the home of the Barça B and women’s teams, as well as the U19 side when it plays in European competitions.

The renovation of the Camp Nou is central to the project and Moix said: “We have to revitalise the stadium … All of our rivals in Europe have done it or are doing it. We have to do it because the income potential is much greater with a renovated stadium, with higher income from boxes or from the name that will be given to the Camp Nou through ‘title rights’. It is an essential project. The sooner we have this income, the sooner we can compete.”

Last month, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed that work on the new Palau Blaugrana could be halted as the club reconsiders the finances of Espai Barça.

The budget for the project could reach €685m (£617m/$813m) and Moix said that a completion date of 2025 would be realistic once finances have been finalised.

“If we approve the financing this season that will begin in September and we start the works at full capacity next summer, we will be talking about four years of construction and we would be talking about opening the stadium in 2025,” he added.

“If everything is fulfilled, I will see it on that date. It’s long overdue … I wish we could have started two or three years ago. There were two elements here that we did not control and that are logical. There was a change of mayor and that led to a process of repeating a part of the work that we had already done. The second factor is that we had to bring the majority of political forces to an agreement in exceptional political times. On top of all this was the coronavirus, which delayed almost everything.”

Barcelona’s arch rival Real Madrid is currently carrying out renovation work on its Santiago Bernabeu stadium, with the project set to be finished by October 2022.

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