Piqué leaves the field after being sent off against Ferencváros.ALBERT GEA / Reuters
Ronald Koeman was not naive, nor was he ignorant.
He knew the situation of Barcelona before accepting the challenge of revitalizing the team after the worst defeat in their history in the Champions League against Bayern in Lisbon (2-8).
The Dutch coach was aware that the dressing room was divided, still with old quarrels since the goodbye of Ernesto Valverde and other power disputes that are far from being resolved.
“You have to make changes.
I just want to work with players who want to be here ”, he anticipated in his presentation.
Koeman was also perfectly clear about the weakness of the Josep Maria Bartomeu board.
I did not expect, in any case, a motion of censure, much less that the locker room was atomized on the eve of a general salary cut for this campaign promoted by the board, after the burofax sent by the captains against the negotiating table.
With this maxim of dividing to reign, Bartomeu's board did not want what had already happened to him in March to happen again, when he negotiated a reduction in the income of the first team to mitigate the economic effects of the Covid-19 crisis. 19.
Then, the players seconded their captain Leo Messi with a statement on social networks in which they agreed to reduce his salary but criticized the board.
"It never ceases to surprise us that from within the club there were those who tried to put us under the microscope ...", they protested.
This time, the board of directors had a letter in their favor to achieve the "temporary salary adjustment" (to pay in the coming seasons what they save in the present, a circumstance that will tax and condition the policy of the next board of directors): the renewals of contract.
Having ruled out the new signings, which have already signed a link according to the economic needs of the club, the board was looking for a new agreement for players with projection and also for some sacred cow with political weight.
"The problem is not only with the board that offers but also with the players who accept, right?", They understand in the Camp Nou offices.
Ter Stegen (28 years old), who had been negotiating his new contract for months, accepted his new bond and signed until 2025. So did De Jong (23 years old) and Lenglet (25 years old) until 2026. All three were part of the list of non-transferable players that Bartomeu revealed in August after the Champions League debacle.
He was not in that list of Barça footballers Piqué (33 years old), also renewed until 2024 (his previous link expired in 2022).
There is no news on the other hand about the continuity of captain Messi, whose contract expires on June 30 and, therefore, is free to negotiate with any club from January.
We will have to wait to know the answer of 10. Meanwhile, the club has extended the contracts of these four players in exchange for lowering their salary and thus reducing the overall wage bill.
Piqué had been the only Barça player who had made his position available to the club after 2-8 in Lisbon (in addition to Messi, but his reasons were different).
"I am the first to offer myself if new blood has to come and change this dynamic," he clarified at the Estadio da Luz.
In any case, also on the pitch, he stressed: "The club needs structural changes of all kinds, I'm not talking about players or coaches and I don't want to point out anyone."
The relationship between Piqué and the Bartomeu board has had its pluses and minuses.
It was the Catalan who served as a bridge for Barça to agree with Rakuten, one of the main sponsors (55 million per season), and also the producer of the
, which recounted the adventures of the dressing room in the 2018-2019 season.
"I saw him very affected," he explained about Bartomeu's explanations to the captains after
Messi did not think the same: "Everything seems very strange to me."
The board, this time, again had the support of Piqué.
They needed to lower salaries and the Catalan accepted the salary adjustment in exchange for two more years of contract.
The AFE agrees with the players and challenges the board
The Association of Footballers of Spain has issued a statement this Wednesday to express its refusal to the modus operandi of the Barça directive on modification of the salary conditions of Barça players.
“This procedure suffers from serious formal defects, since a negotiation table has been set up on the measures to be adopted in which the players are not represented, since they have not been electors or eligible in the elections to the Company's Company Committee. entity, they have not been members of the electoral roll and therefore they are not represented by said committee ”, states the AFE.
And he continues: “It is our duty to request the club to reverse this process in the current terms and initiate, if it deems it necessary, a dialogue with the professional footballers, following the legal channels established in art.
41 of the Workers' Statute (ET). "At the same time, the AFE asks the club to opt for the negotiation of these measures in two differentiated processes. One for workers with an ordinary employment contract; and another for professional athletes subject to special employment relationship. “From AFE we will continue supporting all professional soccer players of FC Barcelona and all those players who see their labor and union rights attacked.
The salary bill of the first team is the priority of the board.
Last season it reached 636 million (66% of total expenses).
After parting with Luis Suárez, Rakitic and Vidal (between the three they earned close to 60 million), the club seeks to tighten the players' belts further after it has estimated revenues of 791 million for the 2020-2021 campaign.
An optimistic estimate if one takes into account that the plan was carried out with the idea that in December the Camp Nou could have a capacity of 25% and in February, 100%.
Barça budgeted the income, but not the expenses.
Without an agreement with the players, there are no accounts that match.
Non-sports salaries, for those who are also looking for a formula similar to that of the first team, were 51 million last year (5% of expenses).
"They ask us for sacrifices and during the transfer market the club continued to spend money," says an employee.
Barça invested 12.5 million in signings for the subsidiary and 124 in the first team (the third most spent in Europe, after Chelsea, 247, and City, 163).
The transfers, in any case, were 126.5 million in the first team and 10.9 in the B. Barcelona's debt is 820 million, and it is calculated at 488 if the balances receivable are discounted.
In any case, of those 488, 50% went to face signings, the rest for Espai Barça and ordinary credits.
"I am concerned that the impact of the pandemic is the least possible," insists Jordi Moix, economic vice president of the club.
Bartomeu's board reached the 2019-2020 season with 133 million accumulated positive results.
It happened that last season the club closed the year with 97 million losses.
Today, the board's cushion is 35 million.
If Barça closes the 2020-2021 balance with a negative result of more than 35 million, it will have to be endorsed by the Bartomeu board.
Barcelona, in any case, asked the Higher Sports Council, along with Athletic, Osasuna and Real Madrid (the four that are not SAD), that the losses be computed as force majeure and do not have to be guaranteed with the patrimony of the managers.
“Our 2019-2020 exercise is audited and without qualifications.
We wait to see what the CSD solves ”, they say at the club.
If the motion of censure is successful and the board leaves office, they will not have to answer for the balance of the current season.
"In that sense we are calm, we only contemplate these adjustments for a question of responsibility with the club," they conclude from the offices moments before starting the negotiation table this Wednesday, which the players do not plan to attend, who decline the stage already who dislike having only one representative.
The table has an expiration date: November 5, three days after the vote of no confidence, scheduled for 1 and 2 of the same month, provided that it has the approval of the Generalitat, which will decide on the matter today in a meeting with the Barcelona.