Camp Nou Vip Experience (or: We’ll take your money and not tell you about it!)

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FC Barcelona has been using a system (Seient Lliure) that allows season ticket holders to sell their seats when they can’t/aren’t interested in attending a given match. It’s pretty straightforward: the holder downloads an app/access the website, tells the club his seat will be available, and… that’s it! If anyone buys it, the soci would get 50% of the price the buyer paid. The other 50% goes to the club. (It’s actually less, given the there’s 21% from the full price that goes to taxes, plus another 10% that goes to the club for “managing the seat).

Season ticket holders are free to sell how many tickets they want to, but they cannot earn back more than 95% of the full value of a season ticket. That’s it. That’s the whole info socis had gotten about this service.

Seient Lliure has been going on for the past few seasons, and there had been one major complaint about it: socis aren’t attending matches as they once were, and the Camp Nou is now full of “guiris” (tourists). While the club may say it represents a “lack of commitment” from the season ticket holders, they are pretty happy that the tourists will pay to visit our Museum, spend money at the Nike Store, pay for whatever food/drink they consume during the matches.

So, up until now, the FCB board was making money from the season ticket holders, that pay every single year for the right for their own seats; then for the fact the same seats were being “rented” to tourists that would end up spending WAY MORE than a normal catalan soci would just to attend a match.

But, actually, the club was making way more money than that. Up to 17 million euros more.

Xavi Torres, one of the best sporting journalists in Spain, revealed earlier today that the club was selling “VIP Experience” tickets for up to 1.500 euros, on selected matches. The investigation was able to identify 10 high profile matches from the last 3 seasons where those tickets were sold. The thing is: the 50/50 formula for the Seient Lliure tickets was being ignored. Instead of getting 520 euros (after taxes) for a seat that was sold for 1.500 euros, socis were getting 88 euros. That’s 16% of the total they should have gotten.

FC Barcelona earned up to 17 million euros just from these VIP Experience seats during the last 3 seasons, and only gave a far inferior percentage back to the original season ticket holders.

Seems bad, right? Not according to our club’s next President, Jordi Cardoner. (The man has 15.000 penya votes in his pocket as we speak. It’s inevitable).

Cardoner held a press conference a few minutes ago to explain the situation. He said that the 50/50 rules applies only to the cost of the seat itself. While the club did sell tickets for up to 1.500 euros, the actual price of the SEAT was 225 euros… all the remaining 1.300 euros didn’t “count”, because it was related to “services”, such as: catering, parking spots, etc.

He went on to add that while the club was indeed profiting from these “services”, the difference between what the season ticket holders got, and the club got would go to fund the other services all socis make use of, such as: free access to children under 14 years old, and the club’s ability to pay our player’s salaries and make new signings.

Cardoner, who’s used to TELL his media friends (Mundo Deportivo and SPORT) to post the news the board wants them to, was clearly shaken up and nervous during the whole presser, even saying that Xavi Torres “didn’t check his sources correctly”, and that “it was a shame that OUR TELEVISION, TV3, would publish such news about our club”. A conservative old man getting pissed off people talked about a subject he didn’t want them to… that’s new!

When pressed by a few journalists about the subject, Cardoner revealed that the club has never hidden this information from the socis: it’s all been “clearly” presented at our yearly financial reports! And all the socis had to do was to ASK for this information, or call the club about it (He made sure to reveal the club receives up to 25.000 calls from socis each year, and over 6.000 visits to the offices).

So, basically, the VIP Experience fiasco can be summed up like this:

  • Seient Lliure has been allowing the club to host thousands of tourists during the last few years, and profiting from the fact they spend way more than catalan socis.
  • It was clear that season ticket holder were getting 50%, after taxes, from whatever price the club managed to sell their tickets, but the club has been redirecting up to 1.300 euros from each sale to a fund that would be used to “benefit all socis equally”. That information has never been given clearly before.
  • When asked about it, Cardoner said the plan was not for socis to “sell up to 20 tickets each season), EVEN THOUGH THE SEIENT LLIURE SYSTEM ALLOWS IT; that “it makes no logical sense for a soci, with just the seat from El Clasico, to make up to 600 euros, which is almost the yearly price to be a season ticket holder” even thought socis weren’t even aware of the “extra services” that led to this bigger price; and that “if the socis wanted to know more about this, all they needed to do was call us and we would have showed them our yearly report in detail”.
  • Cardoner also made sure to attack Xavi Torres’ capacity as a journalist (making sure to say his last name wrong); to attack TV3 “my television channel” for broadcasting an information “that wasn’t carefully checked” (even though he confirmed everything they’ve said); to say that “if it wasn’t for sources of revenue such as this, we couldn’t afford our players’ salaries and to sign the players we need”.

Cardoner did not deny ANY OF THE REVELATIONS MADE BY XAVI TORRES. Simple as that.

Once again this board proves they cannot be trusted. That didn’t really matter to most catalan socis, since they did elect Bartomeu and his friend with over 25.000 votes, even though the club got a FIFA Ban and was convicted of Tax Fraud over the Neymar signing.

But catalans REALLY like their money. Trust me, they take money very seriously.

Good luck trying to explain to an old catalan his 1.500 euros seat will only net him 88 euros, and that the “difference” will be used “for the good of the whole club”!

 

 

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