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21 Mar, 2020 11:24

Taxing times: Messi, Ronaldo & other big-name stars facing big wage hits due to coronavirus chaos

Taxing times: Messi, Ronaldo & other big-name stars facing big wage hits due to coronavirus chaos

A galaxy of the world's top football stars including Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo could face pay cuts as clubs around the globe grapple with the financial constraints placed upon them by the global coronavirus pandemic.

As football attendances have plummeted to zero across the continent, clubs of all statures have been forced to reevaluate the gargantuan salaries that they pay to their top stars.

Smaller, less financially secure clubs have, in some cases, been forced to temporarily lay off entire playing and coaching staffs so as to not become financially insolvent amid the crisis - and the pinch is even being felt by Europe's elite list of super-clubs.

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In Italy, the European 'Ground Zero' for Covid-19, clubs up and down the league ladder are being forced to take measures to protect their finances. With the country's various leagues indefinitely suspended and no firm date set in stone for when it may come back, several financially unstable clubs are speculated to be in danger of going under unless there is support from the government - something which is far from certain to happen given the sheer range of issues the Italian government face.

At a meeting between representatives and the FIGC (Italian football federation), it was reportedly proposed that players be asked forgo their salary payments for March to help the coffers of the clubs paying them. This would need to be ratified by both the FIGC and the players' union before going into effect.

A range of other clubs across Europe, including Barcelona, are said to have been studying ways in which they might introduce similar measures. During a board meeting on Friday, Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu explained that the financial situation is still "reversible" if the club takes measures in cutting percentages of the team's highest paid players, per ESPN.

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Barcelona have one of the highest wage bills in world football, with the average salary of players thought to be in the region of $12 million per year. Any reduction in their payment would need to be signed off on by the players' union. 

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Europe, former Arsenal duo Alex Song and Johann Djorou have been sacked by Swiss side FC Sion after they refused to take a similar pay cut aimed at protecting the team's financial solvency.