PFA backtracks as government tells players to ‘do the right thing…or face the consequences’

April 3 – Millionaire English Premier League stars must “share the financial burden” created by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, says their union.

The Professional Footballers’ Association responded after the UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock called on elite players to take a pay cut to help pay the salaries of non-playing staff – just as their colleagues overseas have done across Europe.

Clubs from the Premier League to League Two have already placed non-playing staff on furlough leave under the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme but pressure is mounting on players to accept wage cuts or deferrals.

Hancock weighed into the debate on Thursday by urging  top-flight professionals to “make a contribution, take a pay cut and play their part” while the season is suspended,  highlighting the sacrifices made by health workers who had caught the disease and died.

The PFA then issued a statement accepting players must be more accommodating.

“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,” it said. “Our advice going out to players at this point reflects that expectation.”

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe and his Brighton counterpart Graham Potter have agreed wage cuts in the last two days, along with other senior staff at those clubs.

Most top players earn more in a week than the average person earns in years but some Premier League clubs are making use of the government’s furloughing scheme – including last season’s Champions League finalists Tottenham Hotspur who have imposed a 20% pay cut on 550 non-playing staff while their players are still paid in full.

Julian Knight, who chairs the government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) Committee, said the Premier League should be “role modelling a responsible approach” along the lines of European rivals in Spain, Italy and Germany. Players at a number of clubs, including Juventus and Barcelona, have agreed temporary pay cuts.

“We are facing an obscene situation where top players who aren’t working are continuing to see hundreds of thousands of pounds roll in each week while the staff who keep the clubs going are losing wages,” Knight said.

“If the Premier League isn’t going to act to resolve this crisis then the Government must step in by imposing a significant financial penalty on clubs to reimburse those hit hardest in the pocket.”

Knight set a Tuesday deadline for clubs to “do the right thing…or face the consequences”.

“The purpose of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is not to support the economics of Premier League clubs.”

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