Three-quarters of Rugby Australia’s staff were temporarily laid off yesterday amid huge financial losses from the sport’s coronavirus-enforced shutdown, while Lionel Messi confirmed on Monday that Barcelona’s players would take a 70 percent pay cut to ensure that the club’s other employees are paid.
The cuts to rugby staff were “the toughest decision in the game’s history,” governing body CEO Raelene Castle said. “Although extremely painful, they are necessary to ensure ... we are able to come out the other side of this global crisis, fully operational and ready to throw everything into the rebuild.”
The sport has been hit hard by the suspension of the Super Rugby season, said Castle, who is to take a 50 percent cut to her US$500,000-plus salary.
A worst-case scenario, in which the entire season would be lost, would cost the governing body A$120 million (US$74.03 million) in revenue, Castle said.
Messi, in a lengthy message posted on Instagram, confirmed that Barcelona players would take a 70 percent pay cut and make contributions to ensure that the club’s other employees are paid in full during the state of emergency in Spain.
Other Spanish clubs are expected to follow suit in applying temporary pay cuts, as soccer’s hiatus due to the pandemic leaves a number of sides fighting for financial survival.
Atletico Madrid have said that the club would impose salary reductions on staff whose hours have been affected, while RCD Espanyol have also confirmed pay cuts, although for sports staff only.
“For our part, the time has come to announce that, as well as the reduction of 70 percent of our salary during the state of alarm, we will also make contributions, so the club’s employees can collect 100 percent of their salary while this situation lasts,” Messi wrote.
“We want to clarify that our desire has always been to apply a drop in salary because we fully understand that this is an exceptional situation and we are the first ones who have always helped the club when asked,” he added. “Many times we have even done it on our own initiative when we thought it necessary or important.”
The senior players were on board with taking pay cuts right from the start, Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said later on Monday.
“From the first moment, I wanted it be something agreed and not imposed — even if I could do it by law — but we wanted to reach an agreement, because it’s best for Barca and shows their commitment,” Bartomeu told sports daily Mundo Deportivo.
“In the case of the football first team, the reduction will be more than 70 percent, as agreed with the club,” Barcelona said in a statement. “This additional contribution by the team, plus the contribution from the club itself, will guarantee 100 percent of the salaries of all non-sporting staff, who will be subjected to temporary redundancy this week.”
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