Barcelona were dealt a blow on Thursday when the Spanish champions’ spending limit for the season was cut to 270 million euros ($290 million) by La Liga.
The Spanish top flight has strict spending controls that prevent clubs from continuing to overspend on player wages and transfers.
Barcelona’s previous limit was 649 million euros ($697 million), a figure inflated by the sale of future television rights income among a series of financial “levers” the club pulled.
The Catalans’ current level of salary expenditure is around 400 million euros ($429 million) per Spanish reports.
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The punishment for exceeding the limit is being put under the division’s spending cap, in which Barcelona will only be allowed to use around 50 percent of income to improve their squad, until they make cuts to fall under the new limit.
The current situation means it is unlikely Barcelona will conduct significant transfer business in January, with further cuts needed if they are to be in a position to reinforce next summer.
This is despite the departures of Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, Ousmane Dembele and several other players.
Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen signed a new deal with the club in August until 2028, which allowed Barcelona to register new signings including loanees Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix.
“We have to thank him for restructuring his contract because it has allowed other players to register,” said club president Joan Laporta on Thursday.
La Liga president Javier Tebas said he did not know when Barcelona’s financial situation would return to normal.
“It depends on Barca and their business strategy,” Tebas told a news conference Thursday.
“Maybe they sell a great player and will take a giant step forward. We don’t know if they will.
“The whole medium and long-term strategy is set by the club, we don’t set it for them.”
Real Madrid, by contrast, have a spending limit of 727 million euros ($780 million).
Atletico Madrid are second behind Los Blancos, with a 296 million euro limit ($318 million).
The expenses covered by La Liga’s spending limit include salaries for players and staff, transfer amortisation costs, agent fees, bonuses and more.
The calculation to decide teams’ limits involves subtracting their debts and non-sporting expenses from their revenue.