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martedì 25 settembre 2012

Barcelona members approve referendum about Camp Nou future

Barcelona could leave their famous Nou Camp home after the club's members approved a referendum on the future of the stadium. On the table there will be the possibility of building a new stadium, something with an approximate cost of 600 million euros, or the renovation of Camp Now, which would cost about half.

The assembly of FC Barcelona's members has authorised the club's board of directors to convene a referendum to decide whether to build a new stadium or remodel the current Camp Nou. The consultation could take place in a couple of years' time, once the club has reduced its current debt. As vice-president of the Economic and Strategic Area of the Club, Javier Faus suggested, both the redevelopment of existing Camp Nou and construction of a new stadium will be very costly.

The future of Barcelona’s iconic stadium has been the cause of much debate in recent months. Speaking at his end-of-year address in June, Barcelona president Sandro Rosell announced that planned renovations at the Nou Camp had been put on hold despite the revelation of record financial results. Rosell insisted that a revamp of the Nou Camp would not be able to happen until the club’s debt is further reduced. 

At a meeting on Saturday, 73.38% of Barcelona's delegate members voted in favour of holding a referendum on the subject, with vice-president of the economic and strategic area of the club, Javier Faus, noting that there are two options available. Last September, Barcelona announced plans to add 10,000 seats and install new VIP boxes at the Nou Camp, which currently has a capacity of 90,000, and also remodel the area surrounding the stadium (Espai Barca) and build a new arena (Palau Blaugrana) for the club’s basketball team.

Barcelona, which runs a number of other sports teams, as well as the football club, also wants to construct a new basketball stadium putting additional pressure onto the organisation's finances. Barcelona in July signed off on record profits of Eur48.8 million for the 2011-12 season, following losses of Eur9.3 million and Eur83 million in the previous two seasons. Barcelona’s total debt, which once stood at Eur420 million two years ago, was reduced to Eur335 million with Faus stating that the club “needs to be cautious” if it wants to take on “ambitious future projects”.

Stadium development would clearly fall under this bracket and Faus on Saturday stated that either of the two stadium options would mean the club would have to go into debt, adding that therefore “the debt must be reduced to extremely low levels.” As Barça's home since 1957, the Nou Camp currently holds 99,000 spectators and is the largest football ground in Europe, hosting UEFA Champions League finals, FIFA World Cup matches and Olympic football.

Javier Faus noted that there are two options: remodel the stadium or build a new one. The first option would cost the Club 300 million euros, while the second wouldn't surpass the 600 million euro price tag. Antoni Freixa stated the the Board of Directors is adamant that Club members must be the ones to decide if the Camp Nou should be renovated. Faus confirmed that “studies have been done to determine the cost of both options,” and that in any case “nothing will be done until the Club’s debt is reduced from its current levels.” The vice-president was also very clear that no matter what course of action is taken down the road, that the Club “will have to go into debt,” therefore “the debt must be reduced to extremely low levels

"This is a question that in its self brings more questions about technical, town planning and financial matters. The result of the referendum will be binding for the board of directors and the club's members," stated Freixa. Just before the vote, the secretary and spokesman of the Board of Directors, Antoni Freixa, said that even though the Board of Directors “can adopt measures that are not voted on by the General Assembly,” that the Board would rather “have important matters approved by the maximum number of Club members.” Freixa added: “We’re all aware of the importance of this decision, both for Club members, the Board of Directors.” The delegate members authorised the referendum by a vote of 490 in favour to 34 against, with 26 abstentions.

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