MARCH 27, 2020 — FC Barcelona News
On March 27, FC Barcelona was among the very first clubs in LaLiga to announce that all members of its staff and player rosters, including its first-team football and basketball squads, will receive salary reductions while their leagues remain delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sport reported the news.
Para leer estas noticías en castellano, sigue aquí: Sport.es — Barça tira adelante con rebajas salariales
The club also released a statement about the decision:
“Among the measures adopted, those related to the workplace are motivated by the need to adapt the club’s contractual obligations with its staff to the new and temporary circumstances that we are experiencing. This involves the presentation of different cases concerning football and other professional sports, as well as for the other non-sporting personnel.
“These cases will be processed before the Government of Catalonia’s Ministry of Labour, once the club has shared all aspects related to these measures, and their scope, with all its staff, both sporting and non-sporting. Basically this is a reduction of the working day, imposed by the circumstances and the protection measures carried out, and, as a consequence, the proportional reduction of the remuneration provided for in the respective contracts.”
Inicially, it had been reported by ESPN’s Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens March 26 that the club’s initial proposals about possible wage decreases because of COVID-19 had been rejected by the players. However, further discussions resulted in an agreement.
“Sources explained that the players are willing to take a hit to their salaries but they are not happy with the terms that have been suggested by the board so far,” the ESPN report read. “There is friction between some of the players and some members of the board, which has made negotiations difficult.”
Barcelona’s move to cut wages has seen the Catalan club invoke what is called an ‘ERTE’ in Spain. That stands for “Expediente de Regulación Temporal de Empleo”, which translates to Temporary Regulation of Employment Action.
An ERTE is a temporary authorisation for a company through which employment contracts can be suspended for a certain time, with salaries reduced or even cancelled. Holiday days cannot usually be taken in this period, either.
In Article 47 of the Workers’ Statute Law in Spain, an ERTE is described as “suspension of the contract or reduction of working hours for economic, technical, organisational or production reasons or due to force majeure”.
How much of their wages will players lose out on?
The proposal from the club is for Barcelona’s players to have their wages reduced by 70 per cent. That means they would only take home 30% of their normal salary during this period of inactivity, but would earn as usual again once all activities resume as normal after the shutdown.
Atletico Madrid announced similar measures and said it was necessary to “guarantee the future of the club” in a statement posted on their website. Barca’s city rivals Espanyol have also confirmed their own ERTE, with both its male and female teams affected by the cuts.
Barcelona’s revenue income for last season stood at €840.8m, which was the highest in world football, but the Catalan club also pay out more in wages than any other team in sport. Lionel Messi alone earns around €35m annually and Antoine Griezmann €17m per annum.
The shutdown has caused the Blaugrana to lose matchday income (around €6m per game from gate receipts alone), while the club’s many sponsors also lose visibility if there are no fixtures taking place. In addition, all of the Barça stores have had to close, along with the Museu, the third-most popular museum in Spain with 1.9 million visitors a year and earnings of around €58m annually.
All of that has caused a strain on finances, which already took a hit after the club paid €18m in February to sign striker Martin Braithwaite from Leganés in an emergency deal to replace long-term injury victim Ousmane Dembele.
Contemporaneously with this announcement, Barcelona also announced a series of initiatives it would undertake to help spread awareness about coronavirus and helping avoid the spread of the disease.
“Start an awareness campaign, reinforcing the message ‘#StayAtHome,’ in collaboration with the Hospital de Sant Joan de Deu, which will be broadcast on Barca TV, the club’s social networks and communication channels, and which will feature boys and girls who, due to their illness, are on long-term stays at the centre. Together with doctors from various fields, they will explain their experience and encourage everyone to stay at home.”
When the LaLiga season will be resumed and on what terms is yet unclear. The coronavirus pandemic has already caused the Euro 2020 to be pushed back to 2021, and the UEFA Champions League and Europa League finals also have been postponed from their May dates. There is hope that these two tournaments can be finished in the summer.