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Sport

Barca start process to reduce salaries due to COVID-19 losses

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - FC Barcelona v Celta Vigo - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - November 9, 2019 Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring their third goal with team mates REUTERS/Albert Gea

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Barcelona have begun a process to reduce the pay of players, coaches and non-sporting staff to adapt to the huge losses suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a club source said on Wednesday.

Staff have been notified by the club of the need to reduce costs after posting a loss of 97 million euros ($113.98 million) in their annual financial report, released on Monday.

The employees, including players, have been asked to nominate a representative over the next two weeks to represent them in the negotiations over the changes to their salaries, added the source.

Barca have been forced to hold all home matches without spectators since the pandemic began in March, destroying revenue from ticket sales. Income from merchandising and stadium and museum tours has also been badly affected by a huge drop in tourism to the city.

Barca’s accounts on Wednesday made for grim reading, showing a 14% drop in revenue from the previous year and the doubling of their net debt to 488 million euros.

The club enacted a temporary pay cut of 70% at the end of March in the height of the pandemic, lasting the duration of Spain’s national state of alarm, which ended in June.

Barca’s financial troubles also led them to spend the close season lightening the biggest wage bill in European football, offloading Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal for next to nothing, while selling Arthur Melo for 72 million euros and Nelson Semedo for 30 million.

They only brought in three players, Miralem Pjanic, Francisco Trincao and Sergino Dest for a combined 112 million euros.

They failed to make any extra additions before the transfer window shut on Monday, despite showing interest in Manchester City defender Eric Garcia and Olympique Lyonnais forward Memphis Depay.

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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