by Tim Stannard
Barca's $1 billion budget cannot withstand the financial forces of the coronavirus outbreak
Global sport is now going through what hundreds of millions around the world are suffering due to the economic effects of the COVID-19 virus - how to make ends meet, when there are no ends.
This is a situation encapsulated by Barcelona today but at an accelerated rate. Barca is a sporting institution reported by Deloitte to have brought in $1 billion in revenue in 2018-19, to sit number one in the chart above Real Madrid and Manchester United. The LaLiga club had an operating budget of over a billion dollars for the current campaign.
And yet, just 20 days after the team played its last game before LaLiga and the Champions League were suspended, the club officially applied to the local government department of labor to mitigate financial pressures by offloading staff, and offering reduced salaries to others. That group includes the first team players to begin what could be a damaging internal battle.
A previous offer by Barcelona's bosses to reduce the salaries of the team's players during soccer's suspension to avoid a more formal route was rejected. Barca's first team squad cost upwards of $400 million a year in salaries and bonuses. It's a cost that Barcelona is struggling to meet with no matchday income and commercial enterprises on hold.
Fellow Barcelona-based side, Espanyol, announced on Friday that they had followed the same route with an ERTE or Temporary Workforce Adjustment Plan which is used by companies in Spain during financial crises to cut costs.
The same channels will also be bringing you live coverage on Saturday of a special concert of international artists such as Alejandro Sanz as well as players like Sergio Ramos and Ivan Rakitic. The aim is to raise funds for medical supplies to combat the COVID-19 virus in Spain.
The LaLigaSantander Fest gets underway on Saturday at 1PM ET.
FIFA set to rewrite the rules
FIFA is set to continue unpicking the legal issues stemming from domestic soccer seasons running long and new seasons starting late. And there are a lot of them.
In a memo seen by Reuters, soccer's governing body is looking at extending all contracts that players have with clubs if they are set to expire at the end of the campaign. In Europe, that is usually the 30th June.
Players that have already pre-signed for new teams for the next season will not be able to honor those deals until current campaigns over.
And as for the current timeframes of the transfer window? 1st July through to the end of August in Europe. Well, that's pretty much out down the can too with adjustments being made according to domestic league schedules. And as those could vary widely around Europe depending on the health advice from individual countries, so there is no easy fix.
Basically, one problem at a time is the way forward, something all of sport is facing at the moment.
NFL refuses to dodge Draft in scaled down 2020 event
Like a stubborn resident of Alaska sitting in a blustery house, the NFL does not believe in draft excluders. In a memo issued to teams on Thursday, Roger Goodell announced that the 2020 Draft will go on as planned from 23rd to 25th April.
However, there will be concessions to the current, let's call it delicate, environment in the USA - and that's unusually accommodating of the no nonsense NFL - the draft will be held in a tv studio with no media or fans present. Or players.
Instead, those drafted will be interviewed by video conference instead. Quite how teams are going to run physical checks on those players ahead of the draft is another matter entirely and something that GM's have pointed out. But not anymore with the internal memo warning that "public discussion of the Draft serves no useful purpose and is grounds for disciplinary action."
Meanwhile the MLB and MLB Players Association have come to an agreement on plans for the current season which was due to start on Thursday. Although no start date has been set, there was reportedly agreement on playing as many games as possible, extending the season if necessary, double-header matches, neutral venues, no fans in stadiums as well assorted contractual and financial issues.