La Liga urges Spanish clubs to furlough staff to ‘guarantee recovery’

Furloughed employees can claim up to 70% of their original salary. (AP pic)

MADRID: La Liga urged its football clubs on Friday to furlough their staff to limit the economic damage caused by the coronavirus crisis and admitted an agreement with the Spanish Players’ Union (AFE) over how to cover losses remains “very far away”.

Furloughed employees in Spain can claim up to 70% of their original salary, with Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Alaves and Espanyol already using the government scheme to ease the financial strain as a result of the halt to the season.

In a statement, La Liga “urged affiliated clubs to initiate ERTEs (furloughs) due to force majeure authorised by the Government as an exceptional mechanism to reduce working hours avoid and mitigate the negative impact that Covid-19 is producing in the sector, and thus be able to guarantee their subsequent recovery”.

Yet the economic damage felt by clubs will be significant even if the season is completed and La Liga remains in discussions with AFE over to what extent players’ wages should be affected.

The Spanish league said an agreement with the players’ union was “very far away”.

La Liga estimates that financial losses could reach almost €960 million if the domestic campaign and European competitions like the Champions League and European League are not resumed.

That amount would be reduced to just over €300 million if games were played behind closed doors and almost €160 million if matches resume with fans.

Barcelona and Atletico Madrid players and directors have agreed to take a 70% pay cut and make extra contributions to supplement the salaries of non-playing staff affected by furloughs.

Alaves have announced they will apply cuts to all their employees while Espanyol will also initiate furloughs, although for playing staff only.

Professional and amateur football has been suspended in Spain due to the coronavirus, which has devastated the country, causing almost 11,000 deaths, according to the latest figures on Friday.