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Espai Barça can become a reality after the Ordinary General Assembly of Saturday 23 October voted unanimously in favour of the Board of Directors' proposal to negotiate a financing operation up to a maximum of 1,500 million euros for the construction of the largest and most innovative sports and entertainment venue in a European city. At the resumed session after the original Assembly was suspended on October 17, the delegates have given the green light to the proposal with 405 votes in favour, 21 against and 6 abstentions. This massive support must be ratified at an upcoming referendum in which all members will get to vote, on a date yet to be determined.
"We will take advantage of this opportunity that Barça has to expand and improve its facilities" said a visibly emotional Joan Laporta. "It is the legacy that we will leave to our children and our grandchildren. It will be an extraordinary legacy."
The most important Ordinary General Assembly for the future of the club resumed with the fourth item on the agenda and a speech by the president, in which he began by apologising for the error in the calculation of how long last week's Assembly was going to take before going on to present the arguments for the motion.
He went on to say that "rhe modernisation of its sports facilities is an unavoidable necessity for the future of Barça and its institutional viability, and in order not to lose competitive advantage over our rivals and to be able to compete on an equal footing."
Laporta recalled that since the 2014 referendum, the club has invested "145 million euros and only 5% of the works have been carried out... and only 120 million have been paid and we have 25 more in short-term liabilities ... Espai Barça is a great opportunity, and although it would not have been apocalyptic had this finance not been approved, it would certainly have complicated matters a lot."
The president explained the details of the improvements to the project, including avoidance of the need to move 12,500 members from the first to third tier, a completely new dual VIP ring between the second and third tier that will boost revenue, offering "the technological advantages and sustainability improvements that are necessary for a project that should last a hundred years and will be enjoyed by many generations."
Laporta argued that the project "will pay for itself, it will not cost the members money, it will not represent any ordinary expense, nor will it compromise the club's assets or sporting plans. We have sought financing within these parameters, with a structure that ensures that these lines are not crossed.”
“If we obtain this financing under these conditions, we will restructure the Camp Nou, build a new Palau Blaugrana, and the Petit Palau and a new ice rink. We will also have to respect the environment and create a world benchmark 'Barça Campus', together with the modifications resulting from the MPGM, which is an agreement we have with the local administration.”
During the open floor session, the president promised to act with utmost transparency and "explain every single euro and each item. You will be informed and you will see what the money is being used for, how the work is executed and the percentage that is spent, all in full transparency. We think this is necessary and is something that must be done. We need to get the finances back on track and, above all, members must be given timely information about every euro invested in every job."
In response to a concern voiced by some members last week, Laporta added that "we will establish the possibility for any members who wish to participate in the financing to do so under the same conditions as investors. We know that there is interest in supporting and accompanying us with this, and it is something that can be done."
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