A few days ago some comments from Jaume Roures, the CEO of Mediapro and a film producer, caught the attention. Asked, among other things, he had ever planned to run for the Barcelona presidency (he's a socio at the club), he replied: "No, but if I was, the first thing I would do would be to increase the cost of season tickets. They're ridiculously cheap." His enemies, which he has, used the phrase to demonise him. How dare he go against the interests of the Barça socios!
But Roures comment deserves a deeper analysis and applause for its honesty, because it's true that the socio membership and season ticket cost to go to games at Camp Nou is the cheapest in Europe (it's only increased annually due to the consumer price index) if we compare the cost with the club's that Barça are competing with (Real Madrid, Manchester City, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain...).
Barça fans should appreciate the value of what they have in their hands. For very little money, the come and enjoy the best team of recent times (the titles won since 2004 prove it...) and form part of a club that has become the worldwide leader in revenue in the football industry (914 million euros)... when in 2003 they weren't even in the top 10. Even Newcastle were earning more!
The army of socios (142.323. 92.5 percent of whom live in Catalonia) add less than eight percent to the club's annual income. That's to say, taking them all out of the equation, to the extreme, Barça could still function. Obviously, Barça are more than that and should never understand the club-socio relationship to be one simply relating to money. Barça is passion, feeling, representation, belonging, history...
However, what seems extraordinary to me (and where the club still have room to improve) is that FC Barcelona are capable of giving so much for so little. Those that have run the club, in the past and the present, are producing small miracles year after year. Depending how you look at it... That the club are capable of re-modeling Camp Nou to convert it into the best stadium in Europe without it costing the socios a penny is brutal. And they will do it, in contrast to Real Madrid, without creating hardly any debt.
Half (or more) of the 628 million euros that the Espai Barça project will cost will be paid for by naming rights for Camp Nou and/or the campus. The rest will come from the money which the upgraded stadium will generate: more seats (more money made on tickets and season tickets), more VIP areas and more concessions (shops, bars, restaurants, hotel...).
If that wasn't enough, the club will substantially increase their sponsorship income for future generations, given you have to also take into consideration the events at the new Johan Cruyff Stadium in San Joan Despu, which will replace the old Mini Estadi in February.
What Barça are doing can't be compared with any other club in the world -- however you look at it. BEcause as well as having a competitive team, making more money than anyone else and revamping their stadium without fan cost, they Barça brand is present across the world, as are the actions of the Foundation. More than one million children benefit from the Foundation and the club's campaigns every year. So, just imagine how much value the socio card has at Barça...