Barcelona players have agreed to a temporary pay cut to help the club pay other workers during the national state of emergency caused by the coronavirus.
Barcelona players are taking a pay cut of more than 70 percent of their wages during the coronavirus pandemic to help ensure that non-sporting staff will still receive their full salaries. However, like most things at the famous Catalan club these days it didn’t get done without a bit of acrimony between the players, led by Lionel Messi, and the club leadership.
La Liga is on hold as Spain is currently shut down in a state of alarm due to the spread of COVID-19. A number of clubs have already announced a move called an ERTE or Expediente de Regulación Temporal de Empleo. As explained via Marca: “The measure, known as an ERTE (Temporary Workforce Adjustment Plan) in Spain … governed by Article 47 of the Spanish Labour Statute, is a mechanism whereby a company can seek legal approval to temporarily dismiss a number of employees or reduce their working hours to ensure the financial viability of the business during a time of crisis. It was a regular feature of the last recession in Spain, which was the result of the global financial crisis of 2008.”
There were reports last week that the club and the players had preliminarily agreed to a deal, but then came reports that there were differences over the cuts. On Thursday, the club had announced that some measures would be taken, without specifying.
The players’ statement hit out at the club, making a point of saying they were “always willing to reduce our salaries because we understand perfectly that we are in an exceptional situation,” and that it “didn’t surprise us that inside the club there are some trying to put us under the microscope and pressure us into doing something that we were always clear we would do.”
Messi’s statement in full, translated via AS:
"“Much has been written and said about the Barcelona first team in relation to the players’ salaries during this state of alarm.Before going any further, we want to make it clear that we were always willing to reduce our salaries because we understand perfectly that we are in an exceptional situation. We, as players, are always here to help the the club when they ask. Sometimes, we have done things on our own initiative during times when we felt it necessary and important.It didn’t surprise us that inside the club there are some trying to put us under the microscope and pressure us into doing something that we were always clear we would do. In fact, if the agreement came a little late is it because we have been looking for the formula to help the club and also the workers of the club at this difficult time.For our part, the moment has arrived to say that the cut will be 70% of our wage during the state of alarm. We will also help out the club in order for the workers to be paid 100% of their wages.If we didn’t speak until now, it’s because the priority was to to find solutions to help the club and to see who the most affected were during this situation.We don’t want to sign off without giving a massive salute and our strength to all of the cules who are going through a bad moment in these difficult times and those waiting patiently in their homes until this crisis is over. Soon, we will come out on the other side of this and we will all join together.”"
Barcelona made their own statement soon after, announcing that all sporting staff would take a 70 percent cut and the soccer first team would take a further reduction to “guarantee 100% of the salaries of all non-sporting staff.”
It’s unclear how much the ERTE is needed on the club’s end. Barcelona were named the richest soccer club in the world according to Deloitte’s 2020 Football Money League study, having reportedly generated €841 million revenue in the 2018-19 season.
The pay cut is a great gesture from the players and the club to take care of all the workers who rely on, and love, FC Barcelona but are not made millionaires by it. But Messi and the players’ pointed statement is a reminder that whenever Barcelona return to the field, it’s clear that there is not harmony between the club leadership and the most famous (and lucrative) faces of the club.