Barcelona president Joan Laporta has revealed the Spanish club is 1.35bn euros (£1.15bn) in debt, describing the situation as “very worrying”.
The club’s wage bill currently accounts for 103% of total income.
Laporta blames predecessor Josep Maria Bartomeu for the debt, accusing him of leaving a “terrible inheritance”.
Extending Lionel Messi’s contract would have made the wage bill accountable for 110% of revenue, which La Liga refused to accept.
Messi announced an emotional exit from the Nou Camp last week and signed for Paris Saint-Germain on a two-year contract.
“Our salaries represent 103% of the club’s total income, that’s 20-25% more than our competitors,” said Laporta, now in his second term as president after winning March’s election.
“The first thing we had to do when we arrived was to ask for a loan of 80m euros because, otherwise, we could not pay the salaries. The previous regime was full of lies.
“Barcelona has a negative net worth of 451m euros – it is a terrible inheritance. What has been happening is very worrying.”
New signings Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Rey Manaj were only able to be registered by La Liga after defender Gerard Pique agreed to a wage cut to comply with salary cap rules.