The cost of FC Barcelona’s long-awaited Espai Barça development is reportedly set to balloon to at least €1.2bn (£1.0bn/$1.4bn) – double the initial budget – after the football club’s president Joan Laporta admitted that the original project was now “obsolete”.

Catalan newspaper ARA was the first media outlet to report that the development is now likely to cost between €1.2bn and €1.25bn.

The €1.2bn figure – which was repeated in El Mundo Deportivo, a newspaper famed for its close connections to the LaLiga giant – is double the figure quoted to the club’s ‘socio’ members, 72% of whom voted to approve the project in a referendum back in 2014.

In May, Catalan radio station RAC1, citing sources close to Espai Barça, said that the development was likely to end up costing more than €1bn.

Earlier in the same month, the club announced that the project, including the renovation of the Camp Nou stadium and the development of several other facilities, had undergone “small architectural changes”.

However, wholesale changes to the plan are now inevitable, according to Laporta, who revealed earlier this week that the club was saddled with “very worrying” debts totalling €1.35bn.

In reference to the Espai Barça project, Laporta admitted in a press conference: It has become obsolete. We are repositioning it, restructuring, remaking it. It is not exactly a new project but there are many variations.”

Laporta, who said that he hopes the construction work at the Camp Nou will begin in the summer of 2022 to avoid disrupting supporters, added that premium spaces would be reconfigured to avoid shifting 12,000 fans from the first to the third tier. 

Bill Mannarelli left his role as the head of the Espai Barça development in May, two months after Laporta returned to his role as club president.

Barcelona completed the first part of the project with the opening of Estadi Johan Cruyff in August 2019, but several other phases are yet to be completed.

The 7,500-seat Palau Blaugrana, which serves as the home of Barcelona’s basketball and handball clubs, was also due to be replaced by a new 10,500-seat arena, while the Camp Nou’s capacity was set to increase from around 99,000 to over 105,000, with a new roof over the revamped stadium.

Image: Alessio Patron on Unsplash