Well, well. Not too much good news at the moment. First Sol Campbell. He’s reported to have signed a one-year contract with Premier League returnees Newcastle United, promoted back to the top flight as Football Championship winners at the end of last season.
This is a blow for us. I thought Campbell performed very well in the latter half of last season. We’ll also miss his steadying influence in the dressing room too. His performances were all the more remarkable when you take into account that prior to returning to us he only played one competitive game for Notts County away at Morecambe before bailing out of the financial house of mirrors at the world’s oldest professional football club. I can understand that he wants to play regularly in the twilight seasons of his career. He’s far more likely to do that at St James’ Park than at the Grove.
An audit of FC Barcelona’s accounts by international accounting firm Deloitte ordered by incoming club president Sandro Rosell shows that Barcelona lost €77 million (about £66.8 million) last season. Total income was €408.9 million (around £348.9 million). Outgoings were €477.9 million. Total debt now stands at €442 million.
You do have to take into account that FC Barcelona is a multi-sport club with major expenditure and income in other sports, particularly basketball, the second most popular team sport in Spain behind football and much more popular than it is here (there are two former FC Barcelona players currently playing in the NBA in North America).
All that said Barça managed to make a profit of only €11 million in the previous season when they won everything in sight including La Liga, the Copa del Rey, the Champions League and the World Club Championship. They clearly are going to have pull in their financial horns as the new UEFA financial fair play regulations take effect.
All that should be good news for us as it will progressive limit the Catalans’ financial fire-power in their quest to poach Cesc Fàbregas from us. We’ll see. I suspect we’ll get to see him for one more season in our colours before he returns home. I’d hoped for longer but I always thought he’d go back to Barcelona at some stage.
On the injury front it appears the gremlins are working their malign magic yet again. It appears likely that Nicklas Bendtner will miss the start of the season with recurring groin problems. This is starting to become a big problem. Bendtner clearly wasn’t firing on all four cylinders for Denmark in the World Cup. Cesc Fàbregas (assuming he’s still with us) and Robin van Persie will also miss the start of the season as I predicted, not being due to return for pre-season training until 5 August. I think this is a smart move by the manager. I’d rather them miss a few games at the start of the season than run out of gas at the business end next February to May.
Whether we’re in contention for silverware then is an open question. We certainly need to strengthen. Another experienced central defender is required now that we know Sol Campbell won’t be with us. We also need to strengthen in goal. Manuel Almunia skippered the side in our latest pre-season win, after missing the first two friendlies. We shall see. I think we will struggle to do better than we did last season if we don’t. Last season was by no means a disaster but we weren’t close to good enough against the heavy hitters, against whom we picked up some comprehensive beltings.
Keep the faith!