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Barcelona members approve Espai Barça financing model

FC Barcelona members have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a funding proposal for the Spanish LaLiga club’s wide-ranging Espai Barça project.

A total of 42,693 members voted to ratify a decision made by delegate members in October to back the board of directors’ proposal to negotiate a financing operation of up to €1.5bn (£1.28bn/$1.69bn) for Espai Barça, which will result in the expansion of the Camp Nou to a capacity of 105,000.

Yesterday’s (Sunday’s) online referendum on the funding proposal saw 87.8% of members support the project, with 10.4% voting against and 1.8% of votes left blank. A total of 48,623 members took part in the referendum, which marked a record for Barcelona.

The referendum ratifies the authorisation for Barcelona’s board of directors to implement “whatever actions it deems necessary or convenient” to procure funding for Espai Barca. The club said that “under no circumstances” will the project cost more than €1.5bn.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta said: “This has been a major success for Barça support. We are very proud of our uniqueness. Once again a key decision for Barça has been put in the hands of its members, the sole owners of the club. My gratitude to all of the club’s departments and especially to the Consultation Board for their effort and commitment.”

Barcelona also confirmed that a finance operation for the project will be negotiated with Goldman Sachs under previously agreed terms which will deliver a return on investment within 25 years. Payments will not be made until work on the Camp Nou is finished and it starts to generate revenue.

Espai Barça will be financed by the increased revenue generated by the project, which is estimated to amount to €200m a year through sponsorship, naming rights, ticketing, catering, VIP boxes, hospitality and other meetings and events.

As well as the expansion of the Camp Nou, Espai Barça will deliver a new Palau Blaugrana arena and the wide-ranging Campus Barça development. The first part of the project saw the opening of the new Estadi Johan Cruyff in August 2019.

It is hoped that work on the Camp Nou expansion will begin in the summer of 2022. Earlier this month, Barcelona chief executive Ferran Reverter said that the club was considering playing matches at the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys while renovation work is carried out at the Camp Nou, and also confirmed the team is evaluating “various offers” for naming rights to the revamped venue.

Image: Ken Russo on Unsplash