Image: Barcelona’s President Josep Maria Bartomeu attends a news conference at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona January 7, 2015. REUTERS/Albert Gea
LONDON (Reuters) – Barcelona are concerned about the financial clout of the Premier League when the new English television deal kicks in for top-flight clubs next season, said president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
The 20 Premier League teams will share most of the 5.1 billion pounds for live domestic TV coverage in a three-year deal starting next term and Bartomeu said they were Barca’s main rivals in the battle for players.
“Premier League teams will have an incredible financial situation … and we are worried,” he was quoted as telling the BBC on Monday.
La Liga leaders Barcelona visit Londoners Arsenal in a Champions League last 16 first-leg tie on Tuesday.
“The Premier League is the best football competition. It has the most interest for fans and most revenues,” said Bartomeu.
“They are doing things good and keeping teams in the competition where everyone being equal is of interest for everybody.
“We have different budgets in Spain and it would be difficult for someone like Leicester to be top of the league,” Bartomeu added, referring to a set-up where Barca and Real Madrid take nearly half of the TV cash between them.
He is worried more of Spain’s best talent could be lured to England by the new riches on offer but said Barca’s players were attracted by more than just money.
“Our rivals are the Premier League, they are the big adversaries. We have to do our best to increase our revenues and our financial situation to make the talent of our teams stay with us,” he said.
“That is why I am so worried and we are working on this. We want to keep the talent at home.
“I know our players are in touch with other clubs, it’s normal. None of our players said they want to leave,” added Bartomeu.
“Most get better economic offers but our players are not in Barcelona for the money, they are there because of the football and the fans’ commitment.”
Barca trail Real in the soccer rich list but Bartomeu said his goal was to reach one billion euros ($1.10 billion) in annual revenue to “develop our club and make it bigger”.
Real topped Deloitte’s Football Money League of the highest earning clubs for 2015 on 577 million euros, ahead of Barca (560) and Manchester United (520) in third.
(Writing by Ken Ferris; editing by Tony Jimenez)
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