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.
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.
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
Spain’s death toll from coronavirus rose by 655 in the latest figures today, taking the total from 3,434 to 4,089.
The spiralling figures mean that Spain now has the second-highest death toll in the world, ahead of China and behind only Italy.
The Spanish death toll has also risen far more rapidly than in those two countries. Spain only recorded its first death on March 3.
The overall number of cases in Spain also surged by 8,578 today, bringing the total from 47,610 to 56,188.
The Madrid region has suffered the brunt of the epidemic with 17,166 infections – just under a third of the total – and 2,090 deaths, which is 51 per cent of the national figure. Catalonia has also seen a sharp rise in cases of late.
Last week, Valencia’s football team revealed that 35 per cent of the 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 footballers 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
Spain’s death toll from coronavirus has topped 4,000 – with 655 new fatalities registered overnight bringing the total to 4,089
Video taken at Albacete hospital, 85 miles west of Valencia, showed patients lining corridors after they ran out of beds and people laying on the floor from exhaustion
Meanwhile, harrowing images from a hospital in Albacete, 85 miles west of Valencia, showed patients lining the corridors of a hospital waiting to be treated.
Man stabs flatmate who tried to break curfew
By GERARD COUZENS
Spanish police chiefs are urging the public to report coronavirus lockdown flouters after a man was stabbed as he tried to leave home with a cough.
Jose Angel Gonzalez, the Spanish National Police’s number two nationwide, encouraged people to ring the country’s equivalent of 999 if they witnessed or heard about wrongdoing.
Referring to the stabbing, in the town of Mislata near Valencia in which a 31-year-old knifed his 29-year-old flatmate during a row sparked by the younger man’s attempt to break curfew, he said: “The best thing people can do is call the emergency number and report what they have seen, what they’ve heard or found out about.
‘Have no doubt that we will mobilise a patrol car to check the information out and act accordingly.’
The clip was recorded in the Hospital of Albacete in the central Spanish region of Castilla La Mancha where 88 patients were hospitalised on Tuesday.
In the video, patients in gurneys can be seen lining the corridors of the hospital, with others sitting on chairs.
The woman recording can be heard saying ‘people are lying on the ground because they said they were exhausted’.
She says that she was sharing the images as a call for the authorities to react to the situation as the patients cannot make their voice heard.
She says the hospital is a bottleneck for the local health centres, adding that more beds are needed for the huge number of patients being admitted.
The health worker complains that there is not enough protective equipment ‘so we keep putting our health and our loved ones at risk’.
Health authorities are hoping it will soon become clear whether the country’s national lockdown is having the desired effect.
Prime minister Pedro Sanchez, whose wife is infected with the virus, has said this is the country’s most difficult moment since its 1936-39 civil war.
‘Only the oldest, who knew the hardships of the civil war and its aftermath, can remember collective situations that were harsher than the current one,’ he said when he imposed the state of emergency.
‘The other generations in Spain have never, ever had to face as a collective something so hard,’ he said.
The video was taken by a medic who can be heard urging the government to provide more beds and protective equipment for staff
Ambulance workers in full protective gear arrive with a patient at the Severo Ochoa Hospital during Spain’s coronavirus outbreak
Elsewhere, a group of infected pensioners came under attack from youths hurling stones as they were taken to a new care home near Gibraltar after a virus outbreak at their previous residence.
A convoy of Civil Guard ambulances was ambushed when it arrived in the town of La Linea de la Concepcion near Gibraltar, bringing 28 patients to a new care home.
Angry locals obstructed the convoy and stoned the vehicles before throwing Molotov cocktails at police who were guarding the home.
Two men were arrested in La Linea de la Concepcion after parking a car across the road in a bid to stop the pensioners moving in, the Spanish government said.
Around 50 youths then surrounded their new residence, which is called Tiempo Libre or Free Time.
The locals also appeared to be breaching coronavirus lockdown rules which ban people from leaving their homes unnecessarily.
The hostile reception was in stark contrast to the cheers and applause which had greeted the convoy when it evacuated the sick patients from the town of Alcala del Valle.
Dozens of people including staff had tested positive at the care home, and three had died.
Health workers are being sent into Spanish nursing homes to disinfect them, after the military said it found some residents had been abandoned by staff
Members of the military suit up as they prepare to disinfect a nursing home in Madrid today
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