Spain remains in a “state of alarm”, activated by the prime minister Pedro Sanchez a fortnight ago.
This is a country that is struggling to cope with a mounting coronavirus crisis as its death toll exceeded China’s this week with 769 lives lost on Friday – Spain’s largest single-day surge – bringing the total number of fatalities to 4,858 from 64,000 cases.
With the pandemic at the forefront of people’s minds, the country’s second-richest football club is not immune from feeling the effects. Barcelona have announced plans to reduce player and staff wages in a bid to “minimise the economic impact” caused by the outbreak.
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During the crisis, it is understood that Barcelona want to reduce salaries by 70 per cent while the players have offered to cut their wages by 30 per cent for the rest of the season. As it stands, no agreement has been reached.
The club are adamant there will be wage cuts, beginning retrospectively from March 19, so where does this leave Lionel Messi?
The Argentine, whose contract expires next summer, earns a reported £500,000-a-week ($1m). His salary amounts to over £31m ($63m), before bonuses.
Barcelona sit two points clear at the top of La Liga, but the fractious relationship between the club and its players has brought scrutiny to a clause in Messi’s deal which would allow him to leave on a free transfer this summer.
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The changing room is divided, and with the reduction in wages set to be felt across the board – even for the women’s team — Messi’s view on the situation could prove decisive.
The Catalan club’s wage costs exceed any other team in sport, while matchday income of around £5.5m ($11m) per game has also stopped helping offset expenditures.
Despite last season’s revenue being recorded at £726m ($1.5billion), megastores and the club museum have also been closed.
Barcelona hope to push through the wage cut under “ERTE”, the temporary employment regulation that has been set up, but the true cost of potentially alienating its players may only be felt further down the line.
This story originally appeared on Sky Sports and was reproduced with permission.