Coronavirus LaLiga: Barcelona on verge of another crisis as players face wage cuts

Barcelona’s board are at risk of starting a war with their quarantined stars after attempting to push through radical plans for them to take huge wage cuts of as much as 70 per cent as the coronavirus crisis continues to cause havoc in Spain. 

Club directors are due to discuss the matter in a video conference today (Thursday) where the temporary laying-off non-playing staff, and amateur sportsman, and the implementation of a wage-cut across the entire club – including players – will be up for debate.

As of yet there has been no green light from the dressing room to go ahead with slashing salaries for as long as the country remains in lockdown.

Diario Sport reported on Thursday that there are differences of opinion about the degree to which players should pay the price for the consequences of the season stopping three months short. 

Barcelona are on the verge of another crisis as the club looks to slash wages over coronavirus

The playing squad have reportedly baulked at the proposal of their wages being reduced

A 70 per cent cut would dramatically reduce the wages of stars like Antoine Griezmann

A cut of 70 per cent would dramatically reduce the wages of Barca’s biggest stars, with Lionel Messi currently earning a basic salary of £500,000 a week before tax, not including any bonuses or image rights. 

Antoine Griezmann pockets £294,000 a week, Luiz Suarez takes home £290,000 a week, and Gerard Pique earns £220,000 every seven days. 

In a video conference meeting last Friday, cutting players’ wages was broached and WhatsApp group chats among directors and players have been in overdrive ever since. 

But whenever there has been communication between the two groups, the players – led by captains Messi, Pique, Sergio Busquets and Sergio Roberto – have yet to make it clear they would back the proposal, at least not at the 70 per cent figures floated.

Barcelona are set to be harder hit financially than most clubs in the coming months. They were ambitious last summer when they announced their budget for the season. 

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They were desperate to be the first club to break the €1billion barrier for revenue. So desperate, in fact, that when they laid out their financial plans they included the unpredictable income stream of player sales with around €120m marked down as the sum the club could bring in across the season by selling its stars.

Even without the coronavirus crisis, they were on course to fail to meet that particular target. Despite a willingness to sell players such as Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal, the only business Barcelona were able to do in the summer involved relatively low-cost deals that saw B-team players and reserves such as Abel Ruiz and Carles Perez leave the club.

Barcelona had already admitted to certain problems in raising the €120m to sign Griezmann last summer. ‘It hasn’t been easy,’ said president Josep Bartomeu of the deal. Barcelona took out a short-term loan of €35m to help pay that fee.

In January they resisted buying a striker even though they were aware that second top scorer Luis Suarez would be out for the rest of the season.

In a video conference meeting last Friday, cutting players’ wages was broached

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is working to secure a more favourable deal

 The Barcelona chief is urging calmness among players and insisting the move is temporary

CORONAVIRUS : THE IMPACT ON LA LIGA 

All football in Spain has been put on hold indefinitely as the country looks to deal with the continued spread of the coronavirus.

La Liga was postponed for two rounds of games earlier in March as the country is in a state of emergency.

As it stands, football will not resume until the Spanish government feels it is safe to do so.

La Liga had taken action after a member of the Real Madrid basketball team contracted the virus. 

On Sunday, the Spanish government extended the state of emergency to April 11. 

Prior to the postponement of football, Barcelona had been leading La Liga by two points. 

The money simply was not there to boost Quique Setien’s forward options. Only when Ousmane Dembele subsequently picked up an injury, reducing options further, did they move to sign Martin Braithwaite.

One of the reasons why many Barcelona supporters and media believed Bartomeu was not likely to bring forward elections at the end of the season was that to do so he would have to present Barcelona’s accounts without excessive losses and that would have been very difficult to do at this moment in time, with the club still chasing its tail following the disastrous signings of Dembele for €105 plus €40m in add-ons and Philippe Coutinho for €120m plus €40m.

Now those problems have been multiplied as all revenue streams are effectively reduced to zero by indefinite shutdown of football.

The club say the postponement of their Champions League game against Napoli alone cost them €6m. They acted quickly to shut their stadium complex but that deprives them of income from the club museum that last season generated around €60m and the club shop that last season made €86m euros.

As well as matchday and merchandising revenue disappearing, there are other problems that need to be anticipated. Some sponsors could withhold payments as they face their own financial problems, or argue that contracts are not being honoured because of the postponement of games.

And in a worse-case scenario in which the season cannot be concluded, there is a danger that television contracts will also not be honoured.

Calls have been made between the players and president while they self isolate at home

The first and easiest thing the club can do is temporarily lay-off its vast staff of non-playing employees and non-professional teams. Spanish employment law allows companies to lay-off staff for a period of time in exceptional circumstances, obliging them to re-hire those laid off when said circumstances are no longer in existence.

The so-called ‘ERTE’ would not be popular but the board felt if top players were also showing willing to take cuts in their own wages then it would not leave them looking like the bad guy. Likewise they hoped clubs throughout Europe could reach agreements in the form of pacts made by the European Clubs Association, or UEFA.

So far those have not been forthcoming and are considered difficult to formulate with employment laws not being uniform across countries.

Bartomeu has still not ruled out reaching an agreement with players on Thursday

Bartomeu has still not ruled out reaching an agreement with players on Thursday but there is a sense that some – and it is not necessarily the highest earners – believe their contributions both on the pitch and off the pitch in a commercial sense, are what gives Barcelona its record breaking revenue streams.

They believe they should not bear the brunt of panic measures to bail the club out – at least not when a certain degree of mismanagement has made them even more ill-equipped than they might otherwise have been for such an unexpected and unprecedented moving of the proverbial financial goalposts.  

The coronavirus outbreak has made it a financially turbulent time for clubs across the continent after almost all football came to a halt. The decimation of the current season has left the future of clubs in limbo, with a number asking players to take a wage cut in order to keep their clubs afloat. 

Leeds United’s playing squad have voluntarily taken a wage deferral to ensure that non-playing staff do not lose out, while Birmingham City have halved their players wages during this period of uncertainty.

Barcelona had been leading La Liga by two points prior to the postponement of the season due to the spread of the deadly disease. 

All football in Spain has been put on hold indefinitely as the number of deaths continue to rise in the country. On Wednesday, Spain’s death toll eclipsed China, with 4,089 recorded deaths at time of publication. 

It comes amid a rapidly growing number of deaths in Spain due to the deadly disease

On Wednesday, Spain’s death toll eclipsed that of China, with over 4,000 deaths reported

On Wednesday, the number of deaths rose by 738 in 24 hours – a daily record. That number was higher than the 683 announced in Italy. 

Spain’s rate of infection has increased by a fifth with almost 27,000 being treated in hospital. The country has 47,610 confirmed cases. 

At present, Madrid is the worst-infected area of the country, although Catalonia has seen a sharp rise in cases of late.  

The spread of the deadly disease has not escaped those in football, either. Last week, Valencia confirmed that 35% of their squad had tested positive for Covid-19, with all cases being asymptomatic.   

Real Madrid put themselves into quarantine earlier this month after a member of the basketball team tested positive. The football and basketball teams share a training facility forcing the club to demand their players to self isolate. 

Spain’s state of emergency has been extended by two weeks until April 11 as the country continues its battle to contain the pandemic.  

35% of Valencia’s squad, including Eliaquim Mangala, tested positive for the coronavirus

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  • Barcelona | Los capitanes dicen no al recorte – AS.com

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