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Atletico forced to cut wages of players, staff due to coronavirus crisis

March 27, 2020 23:03 IST
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Atletico Madrid

IMAGE: General view outside the stadium before the match.Photograph: Sergio Perez/Reuters

Atletico Madrid have taken the decision to cut the wages of their staff, including the players, to ease the financial burden on the club as they struggle with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the La Liga club said on Friday.

Atletico join rivals Barcelona, who imposed a compulsory wage reduction on their players during the period of lockdown after Spain became the second-most impacted country in Europe behind Italy.

Spain has nearly 57,800 confirmed cases with 4,365 deaths due to the pandemic and the country has been in lockdown since March 14 with the period extended by a further 15 days to April 12.

Atletico CEO Miguel Angel Gil said wage cut was necessary to guarantee the “survival of the club” with the staff being paid despite the season being suspended indefinitely, which has impacted revenues of clubs across Europe.

Gil said the club made a “difficult decision” to request for a Temporary Employment Regulation File (ERTE) which allows them to cut wages when circumstances are beyond their control.

"We are working to minimize the impact of the measure and limit it to what is strictly essential, so that when the competition resumes, everything will work as it has been until now," he said in a statement here.

“Our sponsors and collaborating companies are suffering like us and the rest of society from the terrible impact of this health and economic crisis. I want to thank you for your commitment in these hard times and for your help.”

Atletico are sixth in La Liga, a point off fourth place and Champions League qualification with 11 games to go. However, they qualified for the Champions League quarter-finals after eliminating defending champions Liverpool earlier this month.

More layoffs for Australian sport amid coronavirus shutdown

Australia’s soccer federation laid off most of its staff on Friday as domestic sports battled to stay afloat during the national lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

A round of layoffs also hit domestic cricket while the National Rugby League (NRL), the country’s most popular sporting competition in the eastern states, scrapped a slew of national and state tournaments.

Football Federation Australia (FFA), three days after suspending the top-flight A-League indefinitely, said it had let go 70% of its staff in a bid to keep the embattled code afloat.

“This has been an extremely difficult decision to make, but necessary to stabilise the organisation so that it can continue to service the game, albeit in a vastly different landscape,” FFA Chief Executive James Johnson said.

 

“Industries all over the world have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and football in Australia is no different.”

International matches for Australia’s national teams have also been suspended indefinitely, along with all grass-roots and community soccer.

The number of coronavirus cases in Australia now exceeds 3,000 after posting less than 100 in early March, with 13 people having died from the virus.

Globally, over 24,000 have died from the virus, according to a tally.

The A-League was the last of Australia’s major sports competitions to shut down, with the Australian Football League (AFL), NRL and Super Rugby having already been suspended.

The AFL season’s suspension on Sunday after only one round of championship matches has had a knock-on effect for Australian cricket, even though it is in its off-season.

The South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) has laid off 16 staff and seven contractors, including the general manager of the Adelaide Strikers, a professional team in the country’s domestic Twenty20 competition.

SACA, which is a co-partner of the AFL in a joint venture running the Adelaide Oval, said it was forced to cut costs due to the anticipated loss of revenue at the multi-purpose stadium which would normally be hosting AFL games.

“The focus of these measures is to ensure that we can continue to operate and that we can get back to our role of providing cricket programs and matches across South Australia when conditions improve,” SACA said in a statement.

Staff cuts have already hit a number of AFL and NRL clubs, which have no product to sell or revenue coming in.

The NRL cancelled national women’s and schoolboys’ competitions, while Queensland and New South Wales scrapped state-level tournaments.

“I know this will be a disappointing outcome for those involved in these competitions right across Australia, but the health and safety of those involved with rugby league must always come first,” the NRL’s Head of Football Luke Ellis said in a statement.

Tense pay-cut negotiations between players and AFL and NRL executives have dragged on.

The players in both codes stand to lose most of their income, with local media reporting the NRL’s playing group are set to be hit with an 87% pay cut for the duration of the shutdown.

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