Pressure is intensifying on professional footballers and their union to accept wage cuts or deferrals as the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis continues to be felt.
A YouGov poll found 92 per cent of respondents felt Premier League players should take a wage cut to reflect the loss of revenue created by the Covid-19 outbreak, with more than two-thirds saying the cut should be at least 50 per cent.
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, along with other senior non-playing staff at the south coast club, have agreed to take a significant and voluntary pay cut for the duration of the crisis. A number of Cherries staff have also been furloughed under the Government’s job retention scheme set up to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the British economy.
The players’ union, the Professional Footballers’ Association, is holding talks with the Premier League, the English Football League and the League Managers’ Association regarding a possible collective agreement on wage deferral.
The bodies issued a statement saying that although no decisions had been reached on Wednesday, they shared a “constructive” meeting, and would continue talks “in the next 48 hours”.
Tranmere chairman and former Football Association chief executive Mark Palios told the PA news agency a collective agreement was “absolutely essential” while his Scunthorpe counterpart Peter Swann criticised the union on Wednesday, saying: “It’s embarrassing regarding the silence of the PFA in all of this”.
Swann said cuts or deferrals of player wages was the only measure which would make a meaningful difference, and said it should be “at least 50 per cent” for those earning more than minimum wage.
Championship club QPR have announced all non-playing staff have agreed to a pay cut – including manager Mark Warburton and his first-team coaches – while at Portsmouth all staff were furloughed on Tuesday.
Pompey defender Christian Burgess, who is the club’s PFA representative, told the Portsmouth News: “The club have been very good with how they have handled it, it’s all credit to them.”
At Bournemouth, Howe was joined in accepting a pay cut by chief executive Neill Blake, first team technical director Richard Hughes and assistant manager Jason Tindall.
“There is no script for moments like this,” a club statement read.
“No tactics and no set plays to find a winning formula. But as a board we are continually looking at ways to ensure the future of the club and our employees is protected when the season returns.”
Championship side Swansea also announced that chairman Trevor Birch and manager Steve Cooper have voluntarily agreed to “significant wage deferrals”.
Julian Knight MP, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, said football was operating in a “moral vacuum” over the issue of wage deferrals.
“It sticks in the throat,” said Knight.
“This exposes the crazy economics in English football and the moral vacuum at its centre.”
Tottenham announced on Tuesday they were furloughing non-playing staff, before any player wage deferrals have been agreed.
PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor suggested on Tuesday that a task force could be established to assess wage deferral requests on a case-by-case basis, as he highlighted that even within divisions there was great disparity between clubs.
“It’s about trying to avoid clubs doing their own thing without any particular structure or guidance so that you end up with players at one club envious of players at another,” he said.
Newcastle and Norwich have also joined Spurs in furloughing non-playing staff.