When Neymar joined FC Barcelona, almost everyone was happy about the signing of the next Pelé, as some enthusiastic journalists dared to name him. His quality was unquestioned, yet some concerns arose when Santos certified that the transfer amount was only 17 million euros.
Neymar’s rights were owned by Santos, DIS and Teisa, two sport management companies. The transfer, as Radio Globo revealed, was completed for 17 million euros, 55% of which were for Santos FC and the rest, for DIS and Teisa, which hold 45% of Neymar’s professional rights. FC Barcelona, on the other hand, has always maintained that the total amount was 57 million euros. So, doubt was in the air: What were the other 40 million paid for?
The 40 million euro issue is not to be dismissed. Following the transfer, several club members asked the Barça board to clarify this issue. So did Santos and DIS, as they suspected some of their rights were ignored (to receive more money, that is). Members enquired about this during the latest Representatives Assembly, receiving no answer. They also asked the board directly by means of a letter that members’ group Grup D’Opinió Barça sent to president Sandro Rosell on November 20th, 2013, similarly it received no response. Therefore, a court case was lodged by the same socio, Jordi Cases, against president Rosell in Madrid’s courts (not against FC Barcelona, as you might have understood from the club’s response) requesting that the total amount of the transfer be a matter of a court investigation.
Why Madrid? The Madrid court must be involved since a contract with an international entity, Santos, formed part of the investigation.
The case was filed, and the judge is currently deliberating over the options. Over last week, an internal source from the Madrid court case leaked the document on which the prosecutor assigned to the case asked the judge to admit and file against Sandro Rosell. Diario El Periódico reported all about it (which can be found here). The main reason for doing so is that, according to the pledge (which can be reviewed in full here), Barça initially stated that 40 million euros were paid for the professional rights of Neymar, to a company owned by Neymar’s father (N&N). Barça was forced to reveal the contract to the court, and it was discovered that 40 million euros were not paid for that reason, but as a “penalty” clause, hence generating a “mutation” of contracts. Hold on, it gets more complicated.
In 2011 Barça and Neymar signed a ‘compromise’ contract to acquire Neymar’s professional rights when he finished his contract with Santos. The compromise was established with a first payment in 2011 (the famous 10 million euros that appeared as “sport intangible assets” in FC Barcelona’s 30 June 2012 financial report) and within this initial legal document it was established that Barça would pay N&N a total amount of 40 million if they did not sign him at the end of his contract with Santos in June 2014. In 2013, Barça and Neymar agreed to settle this clause, despite there being more than one year left until June 2014. So, both parties agreed Barça should pay Neymar’s father’s company said 40 million. Therefore, DIS and Santos could not claim their share as Barça changed the premise of this payment, from professional rights (what should have been right, according to the prosecutor), to a penalty payment. The mutation of this contract, the prosecutor says, could be a matter for illegal action, hence asking the court to admit the cause and start the investigation.
But there is a lot more. A couple of days ago, Diario El Mundo reported that the entire cost of the operation was around 95 million euros (original here and detailed below). Which, as Diari Ara says today, is partially true . There are seven separate contracts that involve FC Barcelona paying Neymar (his family, companies owned by them or directly his father) for different things. But some of those 95 millions might not form part of his valuation, as they are conditional payments, which never form part of a player’s deemed value.
Just to sum things up: apart from the 57 million euros, which Barça are standing firm on as the true cost, there are also allegations of:
4 million euros to Neymar’s father for finding Brazilian companies to sponsor FC Barcelona (not said what kind of sponsorship, and these are fixed)
2.5 million euros for donation on Neymar’s name for poor children in Sao Paulo (doesn’t specify which projects)
2 million to Neymar’s father for scouting players in Brazil. Neymar’s father is not a licensed FIFA agent nor scout.
Another 2.6 million for commissions.
7.9 million euros for preferential rights over three young players that belong to Santos.
9 million euros for 2 friendly games. Those are to be paid ONLY if the games are not played.
And finally, 10 million more for an upfront payment made a month ago.
Those numbers, added to the claimed 57 million, give a total amount of 95 million euros. Also, it shows that Neymar is easily and by far distance, the most expensive player of FC Barcelona’s current squad, full of World Cup and European champions, Champions League winners, Ballon d’Or runners-up and a four time Ballon d’Or winner.
Reaction over this matter from the club has been even more difficult to understand. Earlier this week, as Marca reports, the club has demanded the Spanish court (Audiencia Nacional) to dismiss the case, ignoring once more the prosecutor recommendations to the judge.
But yesterday, Rosell himself demanded the court to admit the case so he could explain, to a judge, what he didn’t explain to whom he actually owes an explanation, FC Barcelona’s members. He also excused himself of the fact that the player demanded confidentiality, but more reports today claim that there are no confidentiality clauses related to Barça in the 40 million contract, so Barça (aka Rosell) could, if he wanted, have explained the dealing when club members originally demanded (via El Periodico).
Also, during the press conference yesterday about the Camp Nou project, Rosell once again disappointed sections of club members. He answered the initial question about Neymar, stating that the amount is “57 million, end of story” and as mentioned earlier he wants the High Court judge to petition him to explain the dealings. As additional questions came forth, essentially the same thing dressed in different words, Rosell stopped responding, did not deny the 95 million euro allegations and had club spokesman Toni Freixa eventually say “next question” as soon as Neymar’s name came out the next journalist’s mouth. Not a very transparent way of explaining things at all, displaying a sad performance in front of the once very kind Catalan press.
Whether the judge will admit the case or dismiss it, time will tell shortly (it has been admitted, more to follow). But judging by the prosecutor’s opinion, there is another legal battle to start for FC Barcelona or, to be precise, for FC Barcelona’s president. The court is also pondering all the new information that surfaced these last few days.
Maybe doing things right from the beginning would have avoided all this. Maybe Neymar is worth 95 million euros without setting a foot in European football. If he is, it shouldn’t be a problem to justify the investment. But things should come to light and if our dear club, or more precisely, its board, did something wrong that injured Santos’ and DIS’s rights, then it should be amended. Which might mean the club will have to pay even more money for the transfer of the new Pelé. And more so, if while accepting the 40 million penalty clause for a contract that is alleged by some to never have been broken anyway, they did damage the club’s finances, members should know. This case might also be instructive to the board, in the sense that FC Barcelona is not a privately owned club. It belongs to its members and members have the right to make their representatives accountable for their actions, especially if they diminish the club’s assets, its good image and reputation as a global institution.
Image: El Periódico
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