PFA letter warns players over agreeing to wage cuts during coronavirus pandemic
UK parliamentary committee calls on treasury to tax clubs that do not cut player wages after placing non-playing staff on furlough
By Joe Shread
Last Updated: 02/04/20 7:29pm
The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) has written to players to warn that it is "vitally important" they speak to their union before accepting wage cuts.
The coronavirus pandemic has suspended the football season indefinitely, leading to a number of sides reducing the pay of non-playing staff to compensate for lost revenue.
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Some Premier League sides, including Tottenham and Newcastle, have placed non-playing staff on furlough, meaning the government will pay 80 per cent of their wages - up to £2,500 per month - while they are not working.
However, no collective agreement has yet been found on reducing players' pay. The PFA held talks with the Premier League, English Football League (EFL) and League Managers' Association (LMA) on Friday.
More talks are planned but the issue is made more complex by the wide contrast between players' pay at the top and bottom level of the professional game.
Following Friday's meeting, the PFA has now written to players to update them. The letter, which has been seen by Sky Sports News, read: "As part of the stakeholders' meeting last Friday, the PFA requested to see each club's financial situation before we offer advice to players on whether to accept the terms offered.
"This will help us to find the best solution for you, as well as the long-term future of your club.
"Before accepting or signing any paperwork from your club, it is vitally important that squads collectively discuss proposals with the PFA.
"We have already been working with multiple teams from all divisions and have created a standardised template that can be used when agreeing to temporary financial measures. This ensures that you are legally protected."
Despite no collective agreement being reached on wage cuts, some players have already seen their pay reduced.
Leeds players have volunteered to defer their wages, while Birmingham asked their squad to accept 50 per cent deferrals on their pay. Portsmouth have placed their players and staff on furlough.
Managers including Eddie Howe and Steve Cooper have voluntarily reduced their pay, while clubs including Norwich and QPR have also furloughed non-playing staff.
'Government should step in if PL fails to act'
A YouGov poll has found 92 per cent of respondents feel Premier League players should accept a pay cut during the coronavirus pandemic.
The poll also revealed that two-thirds of those who backed a pay cut believe the reduction should be of at least 50 per cent.
The lack of a collective agreement on wage deferrals for players has also been strongly criticised by Julian Knight MP, who chairs the Digital, Media and Sport committee.
He has called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to impose a tax on clubs who furlough staff but do not trim players' salaries, writing: "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.
"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."
He also wrote to Premier League chief executive Richard Masters: "The purpose of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is not to support the economics of Premier League clubs. Your organisation should be role modelling a responsible approach rather than tolerating divisive practices."
Redknapp: Players should make gesture
Former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has urged players to make a gesture "from the heart" to make sure that non-playing members of staff can keep picking up 100 per cent of their salary.
"For me, it would be a great opportunity for the captains of the football club to get the players together and say 'look lads, we need to do something' and give from the heart'," Redknapp told Sky Sports News.
"Premier League players, most of them can afford to do it.
"Make the gesture. I think it would be fantastic. And not defer it; if you defer it, you're going to get it back. Give it, give it!"
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