Politicians fume after Premier League chief's wage remarks

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore arrives for a Premier League panel hearing in central London April 27, 2007. REUTERS/Toby Melville (Reuters)
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By Mike Collett LONDON (Reuters) - Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore was criticised on Wednesday for saying he saw no problem with clubs paying staff the minimum wage after the league sold its British TV rights for 5.1 billion pounds ($7.80 billion). He also said the Premier League was a "success story" and not a charity following demands from politicians calling for more money from the sale of the rights to reduce ticket prices, invest in grassroots football and pay staff a living wage. A day after the TV deal was announced, Scudamore said: "We're not set up for charitable purposes. We are set up to be the best football competition. "I believe the Premier League is a great UK export and it attracts a whole lot of positive feelings about the UK. "If you go and do any international survey, things like the Premier League, the BBC, the Queen: they are things that people feel are good about the UK." Scudamore, who earns a bonus-related salary of almost 2.0 million pounds a year told the BBC he was "not uncomfortable" with clubs paying top players huge salaries, with some on reported wages of 300,000 pounds a week while some staff at clubs earn the legal minimum wage of 6.50 pounds an hour. Scudamore said the "reality" was that the sport was "just like in any talent industry" where the "absolute talent gets paid a disproportionately high amount compared with other people that work in the business." LIVING WAGE However, the government's Business Secretary Vince Cable said Premier League clubs should pay at least the "living wage" if they could afford it, which is higher than the legal minimum wage. He told London's Evening Standard newspaper: "There is a lot of money in the sport. You are getting extraordinarily well-paid players. "The ordinary fans and ordinary workers around the ground should expect some of the money to come through to them. If companies can afford to pay the living wage, they should." Tottenham's Labour MP David Lammy, who has campaigned for clubs to pay the living wage of 9.15 pounds an hour in London and 7.85 pounds outside, was highly critical of Scudamore's comments. "He should not just feel uncomfortable, he should feel ashamed. This is conscious greed, plain and simple," he said. Shadow Minister for London Sadiq Khan also said Scudamore's remarks were "disgraceful" and that clubs should pay the living wage so their lowest-paid staff get a salary "that allows them to put food on the table and pay the rent". Sky and BT Sport's 2016-19 deal of 5.14 billion pounds is a 70 percent jump on the current 3.0 billion pounds deal. (Story refiled to add G code, no change to text) (Editing by Ken Ferris)

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