Tuesday, August 05, 2003

FC Barcelona has announced that its losses over the last season added up to €150 million, which is just a hell of a lot of money for a sports team. Barca's total debt is about €220 million; a typical yearly budget for the club is between €125 and €150m. They owe a lot of money to the taxman and they're writing off all the loser players they spent too much money on, so that's a major depreciation hit. €36 million for Marc Overmars! And that's not including his big fat salary. Dani, Alfonso, Bonano, and Enke are all going to go, too, and De Boer, Geovanni, Rochemback, and Christianval are all gone. Remember just a couple of weeks ago they unconditionally released Christianval and ate the €16 million he cost. He'll catch on in the Swiss league or something major like that.

The team so far looks like this: Rustu in goal; Puyol, Marquez, Cocu, and Oscar Lopez on defense; Quaresma, Xavi, and Gerard in midfield; and Kluivert, Ronaldinho, and Saviola at forward. Luis Enrique is finally going out of the starting lineup; about time. That guy can only play about 30-45 minutes a game before he breaks. He should be the first sub coming off the bench rather than a regular starter. Overmars is going to ride the pine a good bit, too. They're still trying to sign someone to play left defense; Fernando Navarro is still injured from last season, and Lopez is even younger and more inexperienced than he is. They'd like to sign Gabriel Heinze from Paris St-Germain to play there. Meanwhile, they're trying to get rid of Riquelme, who has said he'll only play loaned out to Boca Juniors. Boca won't pay his full salary, though, which is a problem.

Two well-known Spanish cycling teams, ONCE and Banesto, are going out of business. This is an opportunity for some American company to set up a team around Tyler Hamilton. A good-sized budget for a cycling team is about five million bucks. For ten million they could sign Hamilton and Levi Leipheimer, and they could pick up Spaniards Joseba Beloki, Igor Galdeano, and Ibon Mayo, and then fill out the team with a couple of tough Americans and two or three very good Spaniards. You'd win some stages with that team and you'd be really competitive in the team standings. Maybe you couldn't beat Lance, but you could beat everyone else.

And, the thing is, an American major league sports team would cost you hundreds of millions of dollars to buy. But you could set up a competitive cycling team for five million bucks a year. And for ten million, you'd have the best team out there. This would be a good investment for a company like Coca-Cola, which wants to push its image in Europe. At the same time, cycling is becoming more popular in America, what with the fitness trend and Armstrong's publicity. I think it would be ad money well spent, since you'd get your name on the front pages of all Europe's sports papers every single day.

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