Saturday, April 4, 2020

Barça players agree to cut their pay, but not as much as the board would like (Toni Padilla)

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Barça’s board will meet online today to try to reach an agreement on how to cut the pay of their professional athletes these days. A case that takes even more to the limit the already complicated relationship between the offices and the dressing room. By the 2019/20 season, incidents such as the Abidal-Messi fight in the networks, opposing views on Neymar’s signing or dissatisfaction of footballers with the manner of Valverde’s dismissal, had already happened. Now the first-team squad agrees to cut their pay, but not as much as the board would like. Conversations are still open right now.

As the ARA explained, the Barça executive understands that drastic measures need to be taken to tackle a crisis that they had not anticipated. Without football, the club’s revenue goes down alarmingly as money is being dropped off on tickets, possibly on television rights if the tournament is not over or in advertising. Barça also suffers, as official products cannot be sold just the first season in which the entity had control of the club’s official stores, previously managed by Nike.

The coronavirus, then, will not allow this season’s revenue outlook to be fulfilled and will have to be spent less. As many clubs already do, the idea would be to apply an ERTO to workers and, in particular, to make a pay cut with football players. The priority of Josep Maria Bartomeu was to agree everything, without applying an ERTO, to make things easier. In recent days, however, sportsmen have talked to them about agreeing to an ERTO in which Barça would take 30% of their salary, to allow the state to pay much of the rest of their salary during the months of confinement. This measure, however, would also mean calling for a 70% reduction in working hours.

At the moment, negotiations are not going the right way and the President doubts whether it would be a good idea to go for the right and adhere to the law, which allows him to do an ERTO right now without any agreement with the athletes. Doing so, however, could be seen as a declaration of war toward first-team players, agreeing to cut pay.

The problem lies in the way you save. The first proposal of the directive in all professional sections (men’s and women’s football, basketball, handball, futsal and roller hockey) was a 70% reduction in salary for the duration of the crisis, applying to an ERTO. First-team footballers have rejected it, and have proposed cutting 30% of their salary throughout the season, as explained by RAC1. That is, if football returns in June, they would continue to charge 30% less. Both sides, however, do not know when to play again. And what will the league look like, then, since the dates are missing. Therefore, they are exploring a new formula, such as how to trim an increasing portion of your salary, based on the months of downtime.

Basketball, pending

Basketball players also do not look favorably on the cut, because they consider it too strong. Other sections have agreed, but are awaiting collective agreement. This season, the budget for sports pay was 642 million, 61% of the total budget of the season. Almost 50% of the club’s total budget, in fact, is for the salaries of first-team players. Within the dressing room, in fact, there are several points of view. Time passes, and for the moment, the most significant gesture has been the one million euros donated by Messi to fight the coronavirus. The captain, by the way, agrees to cut his pay. But he wants the agreed cut to be agreed between all the players. The agreement, for the moment, does not come.

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