London (AFP) – The Professional Footballers’ Association insist they are aware players must “share the financial burden” during the coronavirus as the row over wage cuts for Premier League stars mounted on Thursday.
The British Government’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock called on top-flight players to take a pay cut after several clubs placed non-playing staff on furlough.
Hancock said Premier League players should “make a contribution, take a pay cut and play their part”.
The English season is suspended until at least April 30 due to the pandemic and there is little chance of a return to action for some while after that.
The optics of top stars, many on multi-million pound contracts, being fully paid during the crisis are bad for the PFA and the Premier League, especially with Tottenham, Newcastle and Norwich all using the government’s job retention furlough scheme to save money.
Pressure is mounting on players to accept wage cuts or deferrals, with talks on-going between the PFA, the Premier League and the English Football League.
The matter is expected to be debated again on Friday at a meeting of English football’s major stakeholders.
The players’ union hinted at a resolution as they said in a statement: “We fully accept that players will have to be flexible and share the financial burden of the Covid-19 outbreak in order to secure the long-term future of their own club and indeed the wider game.
“Our advice going out to players at this point reflects that expectation.”
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe and his Brighton counterpart Graham Potter have agreed to wage cuts in the last two days, along with other senior staff at those clubs.
Players and management staff at Championship leaders Leeds have agreed to defer wages.
Former Tottenham striker Gary Lineker on Thursday criticised his old club for using the furlough scheme and the PFA added that clubs should only be doing so if it is absolutely necessary.
“We are aware of the public sentiment that the players should pay non-playing staff’s salaries. However, our current position is that – as businesses – if clubs can afford to pay their players and staff, they should,” the statement said.
“The players we have spoken to recognise that the non-playing staff are a vital part of their club and they do not want to see club staff furloughed unfairly.
“Any use of the government’s support schemes without genuine financial need is detrimental to the wider society.”
Hancock’s demand followed comments by his Conservative colleague Julian Knight, who is chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee.
Knight has told Premier League chief executive Richard Masters that clubs who furlough non-playing staff but do not impose cuts on player wages should be subjected to a windfall tax if they do not change approach by April 7.
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