Time is running out for the Barcelona board as they look to avoid financial meltdown with the club on the verge of bankruptcy, according to reports in Spain.
The Spanish giants have until the end of Wednesday to reach an agreement with their stars over wage cuts or face a chaotic Thursday to scramble a solution – as per Mundo Deportivo and Deportes Cuatro.
Barca have a staggering wage bill that is crippling the club – one that they are in urgent need of slashing by around £171million. Lionel Messi is the current highest earner at the club – with the Argentine superstar pocketing around £500,000-a-week. Next is Antoine Griezmann on £294,000-a-week.
A deadline to do so has been set for Thursday but the club’s board are holding a meeting with the first-team and management on Wednesday to try and come to an agreement.
Player wages take up around 61 per cent of the club’s £940m (€1,047m) income before the coronavirus pandemic took hold. But since income has dropped to £746m, salaries become over 80 per cent of total income if changes are not made.
One solution the board hopes players do accept is that they agree to receive the same salaries but over a longer period of time. This would lessen the club’s financial burden in the short-term but could come back to bite them in the long-term.
Of the current Barcelona squad, only four players have so far agreed to this – with those being Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Frenkie De Jong, Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique.
Barca hope to do this across the whole playing squad though. It would not mean players have their salaries lowered, but rather their payments would be restructured and paid in smaller instalments to help cash flow.
However, if this can’t be agreed then the final option would see the club allowing players to be ambassadors after retiring and collecting their owed money then. Again, this could pose a financial catastrophe for Barca in the long-term as nobody can predict the true financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic plus any future monetary meltdowns.
If Barcelona’s playing staff do not agree to either proposal then the board would be forced into unilaterally reducing their income.
Doing so though would cause an unsavoury backlash and the Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE) has already indicated that if that was to happen then the players would be released from their contracts.
In part of their statement released last month, the AFE wrote: ‘The club cannot fail to be aware that this process, if carried out in the terms set forth, will entail a more than secure challenge to the measures that are finally adopted, with a high risk of nullity, and the automatic right to indemnified termination of the employment contract of the affected workers, by virtue of the application of article 41 ET itself.
‘We believe that the club must be frank with its members and assume before them that these measures will lead to a very significant loss of FC Barcelona’s assets.’
It’s been a turbulent few weeks for Barca. Just a fortnight ago saw the resignation of president Josep Bartomeu after months of constant criticism.
Barcelona’s interim president Carles Tusquets wants elections to take place before the end of the year as he tries to put the club’s finances in order as quickly as possible.
‘The most immediate measure is the salary negotiation that ends on November 5,’ Tusquets was quoted in El Periodico.
‘We hope to close an agreement with the players and the non-sports staff of the club. I hope that all the staff are up to the task.
‘The economic situation of the club is very complex.’
Earlier in the year Barca senior players took a string of pay-cuts in line with the club’s battling against the crushing effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
In early October it was announced that the Spanish giants would be undertaking yet another rounds of cuts, after revealing an £88million loss in profits.
Players took a 70 per cent pay-cut back in March to ensure non-playing staff received all of their wages with the pandemic shutting down the sport.
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