Bankers furious over football club debt write-down

 In News

Portugal’s banking federation union has shown its displeasure after a multi-million-euro debt write-down for Lisbon football club Sporting.

Fedbase, the federation union representing Portuguese bankers, has issued a statement in which it criticises the write-down of the club’s debts regarding loans from Millennium BCP and Novo Banco since staff at those two banks are facing salary freezes and collective redundancy.

The statement, published on the Fedbase website, states that the debt write-down, worth €94.5 million would provoke “a just cause for outrage” given that arguments for bank worker salary increases and improved working conditions have been turned down over an alleged lack of funds.

“To cite two examples, BCP, on the back of its Memorandum of Understanding, froze and reduced the wages of its employees (…). Novo Bano staff, through their union, has appealed against a decision for mass redundancies [the appeal is going through the courts] which will destroy many hundreds of jobs.”

According to ESPN, the word “crisis” and “Sporting FC” are now synonymous but the way in which the Lisbon club has imploded over the past week is “novel, even by the standards of an institution that has a strange fondness for shooting itself in the foot.”

The club’s President, Bruno de Carvalho, has been in open warfare with his own players. In April he threatened to suspend 19 of them for disagreeing with him on social media.

However, supports say he has sorted out the club’s finances, stands up to agents, has made the team more competitive and effectively saved a failing club.

That feat was done by restructuring Sporting club’s debts. The President of BCP, Nuno Amado, argued that the restructuring plan was done to “safeguard the interests of the bank”.

Amado said on Monday, “We’re not talking about customers, the past or even the future. Our criteria are clear – defending the bank’s interests”.

BPC director Miguel Maya says the bank’s decision to reschedule the debt was taken to keep BCP’s losses to a minimum and that since 2013 the bank has changed its policy and no longer gives loans to football clubs.

Bruno de Carvalho stated that negotiations had been underway to improve the club’s financial state, having reduced its debts to the two banks.

According to the bank employees’ union, this debt write-down by BPC and Novo Banco amounts to “financial mismanagement.”