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Barcelona may be relegated from La Liga, punished points, or face other severe consequences as a result of an inquiry into charges of payments totaling £1.2 million paid to a company owned by former referees committee vice president Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, according to

The payments were allegedly made between 2016 and 2018, when Barcelona was managed by Josep Maria Bartomeu. The former Blaugrana president maintains that such payments have been made since 2003, but insists that they were genuine and abruptly ended owing to cost-cutting initiatives.

Between 1994 and 2018, Negreira served as deputy president of the Technical Committee of Referees. The Barcelona Prosecutor’s Office claims that the club made the payments to his company, DASNIL 95, during a two-year period.

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Negreira and his son, as first reported by Catalan radio station Cadena SER, have disputed that Barcelona received preferential treatment as a result of the payments, which were purportedly spaced over three instalments.

Instead, Negreira maintains that the money was provided for him to educate players on matters such as how to act in front of match officials. However, he has apparently been unable to present any paperwork or data to back this up. According to Forbes, the club could be relegated or have points deducted as a result of the investigation.

Former Barca president Joan Gaspart, who served for three years in the early 2000s, denies knowledge of the payments, while current president Joan Laporta cited an official statement issued by the club, which stated: “FC Barcelona regrets that this information appears precisely at the best sporting moment of the current season.”

La Blaugrana admitted to hiring a ‘external technical consultant,’ which is understood to have included advice on what players can and cannot do depending on which referee takes command of the match, but they deny any wrongdoing.

“After the information broadcast today on the Ser Catalunya program Que t’hi jugues, Barcelona, knowing the facts which the Prosecutor’s Office is investigating related to payments made to external companies, wants to make clear: That in the past, Barcelona contracted the services of an external technical consultant, who provided, in video form, technical reports referring to players from the Spanish state’s youth categories for the clu

“In addition, the partnership with this external source was expanded to include technical reports pertaining to professional officiating, with the goal of supplementing the information necessary by the first-team and academy coaching staff, as is customary in professional football teams.”

Barcelona is currently on an 11-match winning streak and flying under Xavi, with Real Madrid trailing by 11 points in La Liga. This evening, the Nou Camp will host Manchester United in the Europa League.

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