Lionel Messi during an international club friendly match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Barcelona FC at FNB Stadium on May 16, 2018 in Johannesburg. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/FRENNIE SHIVAMBU
Lionel Messi during an international club friendly match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Barcelona FC at FNB Stadium on May 16, 2018 in Johannesburg. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/FRENNIE SHIVAMBU

Spanish champions Barcelona have used an investment fund to help their finance operations, an attempt to compete with clubs such as Manchester City and Paris St Germain funded by Gulf money, a club source said on Wednesday.

The financing through investment funds is unprecedented in Spanish soccer and uncommon in the international game. The source told Reuters Barca had received a financing package of €140m in 2018 from Pricoa Capital Group and Barings, to be paid back in five years.

He said €90m came from Pricoa and €50m from Barings.

“This is a rolling fund, which is perfect for the club because it has very low interest rates,” the source said.

“European football is getting more and more competitive, with clubs like Manchester City and Paris St Germain who are bankrolled by states.

“Our model is completely different to theirs so we need to think of imaginative ways to compete with them, and this is a very innovative scheme.”

The financing from investment funds will not be used to fund the planned renovation of the club’s Nou Camp stadium — which Barca says will cost €600m and be completed by 2023 — but could be spent on wages and transfers.

Barca, which is owned by its club members, posted the second-highest revenues in Spain’s top La Liga in 2018, earning €690m, trailing only their arch rivals Real Madrid, which earned €750m.

Manchester City, owned by the Abu Dhabi royal family, posted revenues of £503.5m in 2018, with Paris St Germain, owned by Qatar Sports Investments, taking in €541m.

Captained by five-time world player of the year Lionel Messi, Barca has the biggest football wage bill in the world. It became the first club to break the €500m barrier on wages, but has still turned a profit for eight straight years.   euters