We are yet to see the true economic toll the coronavirus has taken. But we are already seeing its effects on football clubs in Spain, with Atlético Madrid becoming the third club in a number of days to officially announce an ERTE. Many more clubs could be set to follow.
An ERTE is an Expediente de Regulación Temporal de Empleo. In English, that basically means it’s a temporary lay-off. An ERE is introduced when a company can no longer pay wages and is forced to make mass lay-offs. An ERTE is a more temporary form of that although it can also mean a reduction in wages with the government helping out but that is capped at somewhere around €1.5 a month. It prevents companies paying redundancies to employees when the situation is only temporary and when it is exceptional. The coronavirus falls under both.
In an official statement on the club’s website, Miguel Ángel Gil Marín said “given the state of alarm in place in our country, they [players and workers at the club] can not do their work and their working hours have been reduced greatly.”
The club’s CEO went on to say that the pandemic has affected many employees of the club — which will keep on those workers who can continue to work from home. Phone lines remain busy and e-mail inboxes are full of queries about season tickets and information about games.
A negotiation will now begin with the first team and the technical staff regarding a salary reduction. The club say that the players’ compliance with such measures will allow workers to be paid their salaries. According to capology, Atlético have the third highest wage bill in LaLiga behind Barcelona and Real Madrid. Valencia and Sevilla are fourth and fifth.
Atlético’s net debt is said to be north of €500 million, and the club has fallen victim to their own success and ambition during a catastrophe nobody saw coming. The team moved into the Wanda Metropolitano just two and a half years ago and have also invested heavily in the squad.
Antoine Griezmann was sold last summer to Barcelona for €100 million, though João Félix replaced him shortly after. The Portuguese is on much lower wages, but Atlético’s precarious financial position was outlined in January when they failed to figure out a deal for Edinson Cavani.