Barca, Atlético to trim payroll during coronavirus crisis

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              Barcelona's Lionel Messi, right, celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal from the penalty spot during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, March 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona and Atlético Madrid will reduce the salaries of their players amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Barcelona said late Thursday that its executive board decided to temporarily suspend player contracts, which leads to a “proportional reduction of the remuneration provided for in the respective contracts.”

Atlético followed suit on Friday, saying the move was necessary to “to ensure the future” of the club.

The player contracts will remain intact during the suspension. Employers in Spain are allowed to reduce labor costs while guaranteeing that workers will return to their jobs once conditions improve.

The clubs did not reveal by how much the salaries will be lowered.

They are the first Spanish league clubs to take the drastic measure.

In the 2018-19 season, Barcelona said player salaries for its sports teams accounted for 671 million euros ($727 million) of its 973 million euros ($1.05 billion) in expenses. Barcelona also fields teams in basketball, handball and other sports, but its soccer squad takes up most of its salary costs.

The Spanish league stopped play two weeks ago because of the coronavirus outbreak.