Government Tells Top Footballers To Take A Pay Cut To Help Clubs Through Coronavirus

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Government Tells Top Footballers To Take A Pay Cut To Help Clubs Through Coronavirus
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  • Covid-19
    Covid-19
  • Julian Knight
    British politician (born 1972)
  • Rishi Sunak
    Rishi Sunak
    Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom (born 1980)

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Premier League footballers who are paid tens of thousands of pounds a week should take a pay cut to help their clubs keep on non-playing staff during the coronavirus crisis, the health secretary has said.

Matt Hancock told top players to “make a contribution” and “play their part” as football clubs struggle to keep workers on the payroll.

At the Downing Street daily coronavirus briefing, Hancock said: “I think that everybody needs to play their part in this national effort and that means Premier League footballers too.

“Given the sacrifices that many people are making including some of my colleagues in the NHS who have made the ultimate sacrifice of going into work and have caught the disease and have sadly died, I think the first thing that Premier League footballers can do is make a contribution, take a pay cut and play their part.”

MPs have called for football clubs who force staff to take a 20% wage cut while shelling out huge sums to pay players to face a windfall tax.

Premier League giants have been accused of living in a “moral vacuum” after it emerged some swooped on a coronavirus job retention scheme to furlough staff during the lockdown.

The plan, introduced by chancellor Rishi Sunak, sees the government pay 80% of staff wages and was designed to stop firms laying off staff during the pandemic.

But some clubs who have cashed in on the scheme are continuing to pay first-team players – some of whom are millionaires – hundreds of thousands of pounds a week.

Now the Tory chair of a powerful Commons committee, MP Julian Knight, has demanded Sunak impose a windfall tax on clubs with a “two-tier system” who shortchange staff.

Knight says Sunak should give clubs a deadline of April 7, saying bosses should “do the right thing by Tuesday next week or face the consequences”.

Tottenham, Newcastle, Bournemouth and Norwich have so far opted for the scheme.

Knight has written to Sunak underlining MPs’ “strong dismay” at clubs’ conduct adding: “This two-tier system is morally wrong, especially given the extremely high wages paid to players.

“Non-playing staff keep Premier League clubs in business, ensuring the smooth running of finances, administration, kit, stadiums and player welfare. It is deeply unfair that these staff should take less money home while players retain their full salary.”

Knight, who chairs the digital, culture, media and sport select committee, points out that the coronavirus job retention scheme is “not to support the economics
of Premier League clubs”.

The letter is signed by a number of fellow committee members from across the political spectrum.

“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,” said Knight, who chairs the digital, culture, media and sport select committee.

“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.

“That’s why I have written to chancellor Rishi Sunak today demanding that Premier League clubs do the right thing by Tuesday next week or face the consequences.”

In a joint statement, the Premier League, EFL, PFA and League Managers’ Association said they had a “constructive meeting” on Wednesday “regarding the challenges facing the game”.

“The meeting reiterated that the overriding priority is the health and well-being of the nation – including that of players, coaches, managers, club staff and supporters – and everyone agreed football must only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so,” the statement said.

“No decisions were taken with discussions set to continue in the next 48 hours with a focus on several high-profile matters, including player wages and the resumption of the 2019/20 season.”

Players at Leeds United, playing in the far less lucrative Championship division, have taken a wage deferral to allow the club to keep on non-playing staff.

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