Second place, Primeira Liga
By Daniel Rubens
We’ve written about FC Porto before, but the situation for one of Portugal’s biggest clubs is much different now than it was the first time we focused our lens on the Estadio do Dragao. Porto remains a powerhouse, the Portuguese side with the second-most overall trophies and the most in European
On the pitch, things are fine for Porto at the moment. Last weekend, the Dragoes had league-leading Benfica on the ropes for 40 minutes before a Lisandro Lopez stoppage-time header brought the final score to 1-1. It was Porto’s second consecutive draw, and it allowed Benfica to maintain a five-point lead atop the Primeira Liga, with Porto battling for positioning amongst a group of four teams — Sporting, Vitoria de Guimaraes, and Braga being the others — separated by one point. Still, the Dragoes have still conceded just five goals this season and remain a tahreat to the top of the table with plenty of season left to play. Things are a little murkier in the Champions League, where the club currently sits second in its group behind Leicester, but a win at FC Copenhagen on the next matchday would secure passage through to the knockout rounds.
For most clubs, the financial windfall of a place in the last 16 of the UCL is significant, as it would be for Porto. However, given the current financial situation at Porto, even a massive influx of cash won’t be enough to prevent what could be an exodus of talent leaving the club.
Two weeks ago, Porto released its consolidated financial prognostications for the 2016-17 year, and there were a few pieces of the report that stood out. The most notable was the club’s staggering debt. The annual loss announced was a whopping 58 million Euros, which puts the side in severe risk of violating financial fair play regulations, which are designed to prevent clubs from spending more than they earn. That seems to be the current case at Porto, which means the team needs to figure out a way to balance those books or suffer the sanctions and consequences that are guaranteed to follow.
The other vital note released in the consolidated report was that the club has planned to recoup nearly 116 million Euros in player sales over the 2016-17 year. Even doing that would result in just a 3 million Euro profit overall due to Porto’s massive expenditures. But if they are to even approach that total, there would have to be a significant number of players on their way out the door, many of whom would need to be among the club’s most valuable assets.
Predicting that kind of intake from sales is problematic for a few reasons. For one, it’s unclear
There is the possibility of a deep Champions League run bringing in some extra cash. A place in the knockout stage would likely delay any potential fire sale (although some players would almost certainly have to leave in January anyway). However, Porto are unlikely to top their group, which means they could be staring at a Barcelona or Bayern Munich and a swift exit from the knockout stage. That would leave the club well short of its goal heading into the summer.
For now, the club will rely on the likes of Silva, Danilo Pereira, Ruben Neves, Hector Herrera, and Jesus Corona to try and lift the Dragoes back to the winner’s circle. With the youth and quality they have, it’s certainly possible. Even if they’re successful in doing so, however, it’s more likely than not that most or all of the club’s assets will be treated as such and cashed in on in the coming months. No matter what happens over the rest of the season, there’s going to be a host of talented players leaving Porto before the start of the 2017-18 campaign, and that will have a major effect on the future of one of Europe’s storied clubs.