FC Barcelona

Barcelona confirm €159m cut in wage bill since Joan Laporta returned

Jamie Spencer
Barcelona's wage bill has been repeatedly slashed since 2020
Barcelona's wage bill has been repeatedly slashed since 2020 / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Barcelona’s vice president of finance Eduard Romeu has revealed that the club has managed to cut a staggering €159m from the wage bill over the last few months.

After the previous regime, led by Josep Maria Bartomeu, had overseen the growth of a colossal and bloated wage bill of unsustainable proportion, Barça were forced to take drastic action once the coronavirus pandemic then contributed to rapidly falling revenues.

A report commissioned by the current board upon taking over last year alarmingly concluded that the club was in a state of ‘technical bankruptcy’, making further drastic cuts unavoidable.

Two rounds of wage cuts had already been agreed with players in 2020 to combat the immediate financial impact of the pandemic. But the supressed revenue had a knock-on effect in terms of lowering what La Liga regulations determined Barça were allowed to spend on wages this season.

A new contract was agreed with Lionel Messi ahead of this season but the massively reduced salary cap meant there was no way he could be registered to play, with Spanish law also preventing the club icon from being paid any less than 50% of his previous wage.

Barça were also initially unable to register Memphis Depay, Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia when they arrived during the summer until other cuts had been made.

“The salary bill is fundamental," Romeu said. "We were 40% above our competitors and that was a completely unsustainable situation. To date, we have already saved €159m from the club’s wage bill.

“The objective is to put the club in the best situation in the coming two years, and we are convinced of reversing the situation we find ourselves in.”

Messi’s departure, while disastrous from a sporting perspective, relieved the club of an enormous financial burden they couldn’t afford. They also managed to raise funds and cut wage costs by selling a number of players, including Emerson Royal, Junior Firpo, Jean-Clair Todibo and Carles Alena.

Antoine Griezmann was sent back to Atletico Madrid on loan with an obligatory purchase option, while Miralem Pjanic was loaned to Besiktas. More recently, Philippe Coutinho joined Aston Villa on loan in January, with the Premier League side paying all of his wages for the rest of the season.

Although new signings were made in January, it required a new contract on lower wages for Samuel Umtiti for Barça to be able to register Ferran Torres following his arrival from Manchester City.

The club also tried without success to offload Ousmane Dembele. There are rumours that Barça officials could yet seek to cancel his contract to save continuing to pay him amid the possibility that he is banished from the first-team for the rest of the season after refusing to sign a new deal.

When the Frenchman eventually does leave – by the end of the season of the latest – it will cut even more costs from the wage bill.

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