Renegotiating salaries or putting Barça at risk of bankruptcy (Xavi Hernández Navarro)

In parallel to the vote of censure, which will be the weekend of All Saints if justice does not say otherwise, Barça is living these days pending a problem that will lead to a queue beyond who governs the club in the coming months or the date of the next presidential election (in January or March, depending on the outcome of the motion). The coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the day-to-day running of the organization and has accentuated a drift that has been very present in recent seasons: the excess wage bill.

A few months ago, at the peak of confinement, first-team players agreed to lower their pay by 70% until competition resumed. After tense negotiations, and (another) poisoned message from Leo Messi against the leaders, the players also helped to supplement the salaries of the workers affected by the ERTO that the club applied for lack of activity and of income. In the summer the matches returned (behind closed doors) and the ERTO was deactivated to face a transfer market that Barça, prioritizing the economic aspect over the sports one, has used basically to continue slimming down the spending on football salaries. Suárez, Vidal and Rakitic left almost gifted with this spirit, but even that was not enough to plug a budget mismatch that comes from afar.

So deep is the crisis, so likely is bankruptcy and so distant is the relationship with the locker room, that Bartomeu’s board has decided to resort to the Workers’ Statute to adapt the wage bill to the economic reality of the club. “The strategy is to put pressure on the players by putting them in the same bag as the other employees”, they explain from the Camp Nou, where the anxiety grows in less than a week so that a negotiating table is set up in which Barça will have to explain its proposal to modify conditions both to professional athletes, whose salaries represent 74% of the income of the 2019/20 fiscal year, and to more than 500 non-sporting employees, who receive the equivalent of 6% of the same amount.

“It simply came to our notice then. They want a joint agreement and it makes no sense, so most likely the negotiating table will not be formed and the new terms will have to be agreed separately. [com al març]”, They assure ARA from the Barça works council, where they are already advancing that agreements will never be signed“ to reduce the salaries of workers who earn 1,200 or 1,500 euros a month ”and maintain that the current situation is the result of having it has “gone from braking” when it comes to negotiating footballers ’renewals. In fact, with the data in hand, the calculation of salaries and amortizations has gone from 301 million in the 2010/11 season to 636 in the last audited year. In other words, the figure has doubled after a decade in which efforts to increase revenue have been aimed precisely at compensating for the increase in the purchasing power of players, with Messi as the main exponent of the trend. At the same time, non-sporting wages have never accounted for more than 6% in relation to operating income. That is why there are long-term workers in Aristides Maillol’s offices who conclude that their salary is “parrot’s chocolate” alongside the gap that involves paying the highest salaries in the world of football in the midst of declining incomes. “This is a structural issue that goes beyond who is the president,” they added.

“Goldman Sachs is to pay salaries”

However, despite the threat of the motion, it is Bartomeu’s board that is in charge of putting the finishing touches on the issue like never before. That is why Vice President Moix did not specify the expenses for the 2020/21 academic year, a figure that depends directly on the margin to adjust sports salaries. In this sense, beyond whether or not there is finally a negotiating table, the club is working on a proposal that would affect 30% of the emoluments of Koeman’s men, an amount that, yes, would not be discounted forever, but it would be largely deferred until it could be paid once the pandemic allows a recovery of lost revenue. Along these lines is the renewal that Marc-André ter Stegen is about to sign. The goalkeeper has collaborated to reach an understanding and knows that right now neither Barça nor any club can pay him what he intended to charge before the match.

But Ter Stegen’s disposition doesn’t fix the drift of recent courses. That is why critical voices are proliferating, such as that of economist Marc Ciria in an interview with the Efe agency, who suspect that the credit of Goldman Sachs, which in theory should be used to make Espai Barça, is in fact “To pay wages” and wipe out the accumulated debt.