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Wenger wants players pay lowered to tackle football’s virus fallout

Paris (AFP) – Arsene Wenger said on Friday football needs to tackle inflated player pay if it is to bounce back from the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic, saying “thousands” of clubs across Europe risk extinction.

Former Arsenal coach Wenger warned a reduction in wages was needed in the wake of the billions set to be lost due to the COVID-19 crisis, which forced the game into a months-long hiatus.

“We calculate it here that overall football will lose 20 percent of its income. Football makes, say, 45 billion turnover in the world –- the loss will be 10 to 14 billion,” Wenger told beIN Sports.

“If you look at the wages structure in most of the clubs it’s between 60 and 80 percent of the turnover. That means only the players wages can sort that problem out.”

Wenger added the outbreak has made “the weak clubs weaker and the strong clubs stronger” and exposed how football “focussed on grouping the elite”.

He said the sport would lose “thousands” of clubs “because there’s too many clubs in trouble, and there’s not enough money there to help them enough to survive”.

Speaking about England, where he managed the Gunners for over two decades, Wenger said: “The Premier League will survive. I don’t worry for the Premier League. 

“Of 92 (professional league) clubs, you have 65 clubs who lose money and behind closed doors they open the stadium –- they lose money to play the game. 

“So it is where football has to re-think how we help these clubs to survive… Because we need an elite but we need as well a basis where young players have a chance to play and where we have to get these people to survive.”

– ‘Anti-racist’ –

Wenger also insisted football was “by essence anti-racist”, and the game was an “example of how the whole of society should work, because it’s only based on merit and quality”.

On Tuesday ,England forward Raheem Stirling blasted the lack of black managers in football, and criticised the disparity between the number of high-profile Black, Asian and minority ethnic players and those who go on to hold coaching or administrative jobs.

“If it is like that it’s a shame. In France we created the concept of positive discrimination but that means you give positions to people because they’re not given enough chances –- but this is also discrimination because people who are better may not get the job,” said Wenger. 

“So you want people to give the same chances to everybody, no matter where you’re from or how you look, but as well, not to create another discrimination because of artificial solutions you want to find.”

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