Coronavirus: Matt Hancock calls on Premier League footballers to take pay cut

2 April 2020, 19:21

Mr Hancock blasted clubs for living in a "moral vacuum"
Mr Hancock blasted clubs for living in a "moral vacuum". Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

Matt Hancock has called on Premier League footballers to "take a pay cut" to play their part in the national effort to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Health Secretary was asked if footballers should take a pay cut where staff at clubs have been furloughed because no matches are being played.

He said: "I think that everybody needs to play their part in this national effort and that means Premier League footballers too.

"The first thing they can do is make a contribution, take a pay cut and play their part".

Mr Hancock blasted clubs for living in a "moral vacuum" by taking advantage of the government's taxpayer-funded job retention scheme.

The rate of infection of coronavirus doubling every three to four days

Football clubs have placed a number of their non-playing staff on leave which means 80 per cent of their wages will be paid by the taxpayer while continuing to pay players multi-million-pound salaries.

The government scheme covers 80 per cent of wages of staff put on furlough during the lockdown period to encourage employers not to lay-off their employees.

Culture committee boss Julian Knight has asked Chancellor Rishi Sunak to impose a levy on Premier League clubs that have not cut their player's salaries by April 7.

He wrote: "The purpose of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is not to support the economics of Premier League clubs, who should play their part in dealing with this crisis and set a good example.

“Lessons should be learnt from European clubs including Bayern Munich, Juventus and Barcelona where players have all agreed to take pay reductions If PL clubs insist on maintaining this current two-tier strategy, they should face sanctions.

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"It sticks in the throat. This exposes the crazy economics in English football and the moral vacuum at its centre."

Newcastle was the first Premier club to announce it would take advantage of the furlough scheme and placed all of its non-playing and coaching staff on leave.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy also announced the club's 550 non-playing staff will have their wages cut, and that he would take a cut himself.

It comes after Mr Hancock announced a "five pillar" plan to increase the number of coronavirus tests from 10,000 to 100,000 per day.

Laying out the strategy at a press briefing on Thursday, he said it would include working with universities and private businesses to establish new swab testing sites.

Plans are also in place for leading pharmaceutical firms to help create a British diagnostics industry "at scale" to help reach a target of 100,000 tests per day by the end of April.

The coronavirus death toll in the UK has reached 2,921 today and stands at over 50,000 worldwide.