Andorran Banks Finance FC Barcelona’s Repurchase of Land in Can Rigalt

16 October 2018 – Eje Prime

FC Barcelona has obtained Andorran financing to purchase Can Rigalt. The Catalan club has signed a €20 million loan over four years with MoraBanc to comply with the ruling won by the real estate company La Llave de Oro for the plots of land, located in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, according to the sports newspaper Palco23.

The operation in Can Rigalt dates back to 1998 when the board, chaired at the time by Josep Lluís Núñez, acquired those plots near the Camp Nou to build a sports city. Nevertheless, the project was abandoned and it was not until 2005 when the former-President Joan Laporta managed to transfer them to the real estate firm La Llave de Oro for €35.4 million. Nevertheless, the purchase contract included a series of clauses whose breach allowed the company to undo the purchase and recover its money. And that is what has ended up happening.

The most important point and the one that ended up tipping the balance against FC Barcelona during the arbitration proceedings was the obtaining of permits to build homes. The first arbitration award established that 30 July 2014 was the deadline for the club to fulfil and ensure that the Town Hall of L’Hospitalet and the other players involved had facilitated the urban planning process. Nevertheless, the burst of the real estate bubble left the operation up in the air and the group requested a new arbitration award to resolve the operation.

That ruling came in June 2016, when the Arbitration Court of Barcelona corroborated that, after ten years, the requirements established in the purchase contract had not been met. For that reason, it forced the sports entity to return the €35.4 million that it had charged for the land, as well as some legal interest amounting to €11.6 million. The entity tried to negotiate a discount, although its annual report confirms that, in the end, it made the payments established in the ruling.

In the Camp Nou offices, there is not too much hope regarding the future of these plots, which spans 10,000 m2 and have a significant volume of buildable space. In fact, a decision was taken to impair the potential of this asset by €29 million in the accounts for 2016-2017, placing its accounting value at €8.44 million, as revealed by this newspaper. It is “a reasonable valuation established by an independent expert”, says the entity, which trusts that the evolution of technology will allow it to reduce the costs of converting the electricity sub-station next to the land and its transformation is what makes the real estate operation unviable today.

This is not the only urban planning project that FC Barcelona has faced problems with. Laporta also forecast the construction of Barça Park in 2007-2008, a thematic space, next to the Barcelona-El Prat Airport. The club paid €18.74 million for the land, but never managed to overcome the administrative procedures due to the breach of several environmental rules that prevented the development there of any kind of sporting, leisure or training activity. Last year, it applied an additional depreciation of €1.13 million and today its value amounts to just €3.07 million.

Original story: Eje Prime (by M. Menchén)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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