Barcelona are studying the possibility of applying a pay cut of up to 70% to all of their players for as long as the coronovirus lockdown lasts in Spain. The players are understood to be receptive to a reduction in salary and discussions are ongoing but no agreement has yet been reached.
The intention is for any measures to apply equally to every athlete at the club, from the men’s and women’s football teams to the B team and the Under-19s to those who play basketball, handball, futsal and roller hockey. It would also apply to staff working with those teams.
Barcelona are the only Spanish first division football club so far to admit that they are looking into the possibility of measures to palliate the economic impact of the COVD-19 pandemic, although the league announced in a statement that it would support its members in any measures they deem necessary. As the crisis continues, more clubs are expected to follow suit.
Labour legislation in Spain allows for companies to apply ERTEs – temporary measures to lay off staff or reduce wages in circumstances such as these – but Barcelona prefer to reach a negotiated settlement. Staff in non-football departments are resigned to the probability that they will be affected. The TV company that owns the rights to La Liga in Spain has announced that it will apply an ERTE to more than a thousand staff.
Barcelona held remote meetings late last week and again on Tuesday. They had a positive response from the club captains. The initial proposal was for the reduction to last as long as the country is in lockdown, after which the players would go back to earning 100% of their salary, even if competition does not return and the league remains unfinished. Spain’s state of alarm was announced on 11 March and is set to continue until at least 11 April.
Barcelona’s economic situation is precarious and there are concerns that they may not be able to meet some of their payments if the season is not completed. Of an annual budget of €1.047bn (£970m), 66% was spent on wages last season, down from 70% the season before but considered too high. The projection was 61% this season but that target is unlikely to be met now.