With coach Diego Simeone earning £ 8.9 million (€ 10 million) more than all of his football management peers, he set a club record of £ 113 million (€ 127 million) last summer for then 19-year-old Joao Felix and the Continuous payments for their new stadium, it is no wonder that Atletico Madrid is seen as one of the clubs that would have the hardest financially due to the coronavirus cessation.
There’s no question that Simeone has made fortunes for the club. Two Champions League finals, another semifinal, two Europa League finals and two European Super Cups have raised over £ 268 million (£ 300 million) in prize money.
But his deal is one of the reasons the club is on a financial point if the season cannot be completed satisfactorily and television and match day earnings can be saved.
Diego Simeone’s huge salary could put Atletico Madrid under financial pressure
The club continues to pay for the Wanda Metrolpolitano stadium during the closure of the corona virus
And while recent attempts to contract high-cost flair players (Joao Felix and Thomas Lemar, both of whom broke club transfer records) came from money raised in the transfer market, Atletico still managed to spend a lot as they went to a moved new stadium.
Most clubs struggle with this and the new stadium has yet to be paid. The club contracted Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim to pay for the move of old Vicente Calderon to the suburb of Metropolitano.
That debt of around £ 178 million (200 million euros) owed to Slim’s company Inbursa will not be paid off until around 2028. The club has remained competitive in the transfer market through the move, but has done so with the limit of their finances that would always be tested by unforeseen circumstances.
After a disappointing first season, Atletico may regret spending £ 113 million on Joao Felix
Atletico left Vicente Calderon (above) to Wanda Metropolitano after the 2016-17 season
The club has already announced a hitherto unspecified package of cut wages and layoffs for all its employees. That only lasts as long as Spain is stuck and it is therefore unlikely to extend beyond April 11. More importantly, the transfer activity is next summer.
Atletico’s payroll is £ 310 million (348 million euros). When the club announced its budget at the beginning of the season, expected sales were set at £ 459 million (515 million euros). That figure is not likely to be reached if the remaining games are to be played behind closed doors or not to be played at all.
Even when things return to normal, there is a feeling that Atletico Madrid should make adjustments this summer. The club’s sporting director, Andrea Berta, told Tuttosport this week: ‘I think they can get rid of the summer transfer window which can now coincide with the end of the (recast) season, and everyone will stay with the team they have until January when the market reopens. ‘
Diario AS reported last week that Atletico will only bring in players if they can sell when the next window opens. Lemar is someone who can leave.
After the stadium move, the debt of around £ 178 million is owed to Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim
Los Rojiblancos plans to sell Thomas Lemar to ease financial pressure
Thomas Partey is another one with a foot out, thanks in large part to a £ 45 million (£ 50 million) release clause, but the club is confident they can renew the 26-year-old Ghanaian international without losing him.
Improving Jan Oblak’s conditions seems inevitable if he wants to stay. Inevitable but desirable after showing how important he is at Anfield in the Champions Leauge.
And there will be another one of the staggered payments that Joao Felix will meet. Not only is he the club’s signature, he’s also the third most expensive player in history.
The teen’s purchase looked daring last summer. Now, after a disappointing first year and with the financial consequences of a major football dropout, things are looking more unwise.
Simeone will have to make his money by leading a team without significant new investment. Subordinate to the club’s situation, he wanted Edinson Cavani in January, but there was no money to pay the £ 27 million (€ 30 million) Paris Saint-Germain asked.
Atletico will struggle to meet the salary demands of star goalkeeper Jan Oblak
France Football published the top earners in management last month and it reminded us how much more Simeone is paid at Atletico Madrid than other managers.
His income is still overshadowed by the top players: France Football called Lionel Messi £ 117 million (€ 131 million); Cristiano Ronaldo £ 105 million (118 million euros) and Neymar £ 85 million (95 million euros), but in terms of coaches no one comes close.
He topped the list of highest-paid managers grossing £ 36m (£ 40.5m) per season, just under £ 8.9m (£ 10m) more than second-placed Antonio Conte who Earns £ 37 million (30 million euros) and third-placed Pep Guardiola at £ 24 (27 million euros).
According to France Football, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola earns £ 24 million
Simeone has led Atleti to six European finals, earning the Europa League trophy in 2018
The club announced Simeone’s last deal on St. Valentine’s Day in 2019, in part in tribute to the number 14 shirt he wore. They posted a headline ‘in love with Atleti’ when announcing the deal. He is a symbol of the club, the most important figure in its history and is about to lead 3,000 days.
No one can doubt that the past eight years have been the best in club history, but having huge costs has sustained him as the highest paid coach, plus paying for a new stadium and breaking transfer records in successive seasons.
With football on the brink of recession, clubs will have to adjust and Atletico Madrid may need to adjust more than most.