By Fernando Kallas
BARCELONA, June 16 (Reuters) - Barcelona approved on Thursday the sale of a minority share of their licensing and merchandising division and the cession of up to 25% of income from their LaLiga TV rights in a bid to improve their financial situation.
The club board hopes this will enable them to finish the financial year without losses and increase their spending limit.
Club president Joan Laporta said they expect to sell up to 49.9% of retail operation Barcelona Licensing and Merchandising (BLM) for 200-300 million euros and a minimum of 200 million each 10% of the LaLiga TV rights for 25 years.
The plan to sell BLM received 89.3% backing from 636 participants (only 14.2% of the club's total delegates), while the TV rights deal got 86.8% support.
"When we arrived last year, we found ourselves in a very complicated financial situation. We couldn't afford the payroll of May 2021. Investors were demanding 200 million euros that we did not have," Laporta told the assembly.
"We believe that using club's assets to create financial levers is the best way to bring back Barca to being competitive again."
Laporta, who presided over one of Barca's most successful periods between 2003 and 2010, was elected last year for a second stint with the Catalan giants after the previous board resigned due to the club's worsening finances and other controversies.
He inherited a deep financial crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and, restricted by LaLiga's Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, Barca were unable to re-sign club great Lionel Messi who left as a free agent for Paris St Germain last summer.
Laporta said in August the club's debts totalled 1.35 billion euros, 673 million of which is owed to banks.
Barca in December approved financial plans to renovate their famous Camp Nou stadium, including raising an additional 1.5 billion euros in debt.
In March, Barcelona signed a shirt and stadium sponsorship deal with audio streaming platform Spotify (SPOT.N) in an agreement worth 280 million euros. (Reporting by Fernando Kallas, editing by Ed Osmond)