Brighton boss Graham Potter believes taking a wage cut is the right thing to do

Brighton manager Graham Potter looks on during the FA Cup Third Round match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Sheffield Wednesday at Amex Stadium on January 04, 2020 in Brighton, England.

Graham Potter says it was the "right decision" for him and two of his colleagues at Brighton to take a pay cut amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Potter, Brighton's deputy chairman and chief executive Paul Barber and technical director Dan Ashworth have each taken a "significant voluntary pay cut" for the next three months in order to support chairman Tony Bloom's "significant efforts to protect all jobs at our club and charity".

It means that non-playing staff will not be furloughed imminently and comes after Bloom originally turned down the trio's offer a fortnight ago.

The move came before Health Secretary Matt Hancock called on Premier League footballers to "take a pay cut" to play their part in the national effort to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak on Thursday.

"I spoke with Tony a couple of weeks ago, I think it was. It just felt like a normal thing to offer him because he has been good to me," he said.

"I know the pressure he is under as a chairman and the challenges he faces. It is a small part we can do but I think it was an important offer.

"Tony being Tony said, 'Thank you very much but, at the moment, we are working through things'. As things have moved forward, I think we have come to the right decision to do what we have done."

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock has urged Premier League footballers to take a pay cut to help in the battle against coronavirus.

Potter said he had not discussed his decision with the Brighton players and revealed that they had made private donations at their own behest but said it would be up to each player to decide whether they wanted to take a pay cut.

He said: "Not really [have not spoken to them]. The players are aware of the situation. I know they have made their own private charitable donations without any direction from us.

"They have done that off their own bat. I am sure they will be willing the help the football club. It is up to them and the PFA to come to the right conclusions, I think."

Asked if it would please him to see players offer publicly to take a pay cut, he said: "It is up to them. They have got to make that call themselves, I am my own person.

Tony Bloom
Image: Brighton chairman Tony Bloom

"I have made the decision for me, for my family, for where I sit at the football club. It is up to the players and the PFA and everyone else to make their own decisions."

Potter has followed Bournemouth counterpart Eddie Howe in taking a decrease in pay, but the clamour for players to reduce their hefty wages continues to grow.

The Brighton boss admitted he could understand the public perception and criticism of players in the current situation but said it was important to "do the right thing as a collective" in the face of the pandemic.

"You can understand the criticism, if you like," he said. "On the flipside, footballers and the Premier League contribute to the treasury in an enormous way as well.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh celebrates his equalsier with team-mates

"We have just had an election where issues of taxation have come into the equation.

"We are in a realty difficult situation with a global pandemic and we want to try and do the right thing as a collective, as a humanity. I am pretty sure football will come to those conclusions."

Four Premier League clubs (Tottenham, Newcastle, Bournemouth and Norwich) have placed non-playing staff on furlough leave - a government support scheme which pays employees 80 per cent of their wages while they are not working.

Julian Knight MP, who chairs the Digital, Media and Sport committee, previously called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to impose a tax on clubs who furlough staff but do not trim players' salaries, criticising the lack of a collective agreement on wage deferrals for players.

Potter is deeply impressed by the leadership team in place at the Amex

Potter also confirmed that the unnamed Brighton player who contracted the virus is now symptom-free and healthy again.

He said: "The guy that tested positive is symptom-free now, made a good recovery. We have had a couple more tested with symptoms but there is no problems, nothing to worry about."

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