Premier League footballers 'asked to take 30 per cent pay cut' to help non-playing staff on furlough

3 April 2020, 22:28

File photo: Premier League players will be consulted on a pay cut
File photo: Premier League players will be consulted on a pay cut. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Premier League footballers will be consulted over taking a 30 per cent pay cut to help pay non-playing staff during the coronavirus pandemic.

Stars and clubs have come under fire after some furloughed off-the-pitch staff without looking at players' wages during the Covid-19 crisis.

Some clubs 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.

But top-flight captains discussed how best to help support and fund the NHS during the coronavirus crisis at a meeting on Friday.

In a statement, the Premier League said: "In the face of substantial and continuing losses for the 2019/20 season since the suspension of matches began, and to protect employment throughout the professional game, Premier League clubs unanimously agreed to consult their players regarding a combination of conditional reductions and deferrals amounting to 30 per cent of total annual remuneration.

"This guidance will be kept under constant review as circumstances change.

"The League will be in regular contact with the PFA, and the union and the LMA will join a meeting which will be held tomorrow between the League, players and club representatives."

Following a meeting of Premier League shareholders, it was also acknowledged that the season could not begin in May, with the restart date to be kept under constant review.

Football has come under increasing scrutiny as the pandemic continues to escalate, with health secretary Matt Hancock taking aim at players' supposed inaction in Thursday's daily briefing.

But discussions between Premier League players were under way days before those comments and it is understood that the captains of all 20 Premier League clubs held a meeting on Friday to discuss the situation.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson helped organise what is a collective, league-wide effort, with the players' ability to help worthy causes during the escalating situation high on the agenda.

On Thursday, Mr Hancock 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".

Matt Hancock updates on coronavirus figures, including death of nurses

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

At a meeting on Friday, the league also confirmed an immediate advance of £125million to the EFL and the National League as clubs at the lower levels struggle with a loss of revenue amid the stoppage.

A further £20m will be committed to the NHS, and others left vulnerable by the pandemic.

In their statement, the Premier League added: "It was acknowledged that the Premier League will not resume at the beginning of May – and that the 2019/20 season will only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

"The restart date is under constant review with all stakeholders, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic develops and we work together through this very challenging time.

"The Premier League is working closely with the whole of professional football in this country, as well as with the Government, public agencies and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the game achieves a collaborative solution.

"With this, there is a combined objective for all remaining domestic league and cup matches to be played, enabling us to maintain the integrity of each competition.

"However, any return to play will only be with the full support of the Government and when medical guidance allows.

"The sporting and financial implications for Premier League clubs as well as for The FA, EFL and National League were considered at today’s meeting."

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.

"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.