Former Barcelona director Joan Castells says investing 600 million euros to renovate the Camp Nou is "risky" considering the club's sizeable debts, and it might affect the team's ability to keep signing top players and winning trophies.
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Barca have confirmed plans for a complete reform of their ground, with the club, which is 330 million euros in debt, likely to finance the project through a mix of its own revenues, further borrowing and the sale of "surnaming rights" to the new stadium.
Castells, a Barca vice president for economic affairs between 2000 and 2002, told La Xarxa radio station, according to Marca, that he was unsure if such a huge stadium investment was necessary.
“I do not know if this is necessary, or whether the club can take on a 600 million euro investment,” Castells said. “We are taking a big risk with the club's financial situation. It is a bold move when you consider the size of the investment. I would think very carefully about it before voting yes.”
Barca figures say such a spectacular new ground is necessary to grow commercial revenues and keep up with Real Madrid and other clubs around Europe. Castells, who remains a socio and therefore has a vote on the matter in the referendum scheduled for early April, said that spending at least some of the available money on new players might be a better idea.
“The investment is extremely substantial,” Castells said. “I do not know if it is worth it. I have to think that the people in charge think so. It might be necessary to invest this income in the football first team to continue being the best side in the world. I think it will be difficult to reconcile [the new stadium investment] with making signings.”
Castells said it was important to have a Camp Nou which Catalans could be proud of, while suggesting that a lower-cost project might be sufficient to ensure that continued.
“Catalunya has a historical heritage and the Camp Nou is part of that,” he said. “I would have liked an option to renovate the Camp Nou for 300 million euros or less money. I would have voted for that.”