LONDON, April 5: The English Premier League players rejected a move on Saturday by clubs to cut their wages by 30 per cent during the coronavirus pandemic, escalating a bitter public row as their union claimed the government would lose out on more than 200 million pounds (around $245 million) in tax.
�This would be detrimental to our NHS (National Health Service) and other government-funded services,� the Professional Footballers� Association said in a statement.
Taking on the Premier League as a whole, the PFA said the 20 million pounds being given to the NHS by the world�s richest soccer competition was �welcome, but we believe it could be far bigger.�
The union�s strident stance came after further talks on Saturday involving clubs and the league as Liverpool became the latest Premier League side defying political anger by using a government bailout scheme to furlough some non-playing staff.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock had told players at clubs furloughing staff to take a pay cut. Sports minister Nigel Huddleston reminded the Premier League to ensure it �helps the national effort.�
Liverpool, which leads the league by 25 points, followed fellow 2019 Champions League finalist Tottenham, Bournemouth, Newcastle and Norwich in furloughing staff.
Under a job retention scheme implemented to help businesses survive the national lockdown, staff can be put on furlough and receive 80 per cent of their salaries from the government, up to a maximum of 2,500 pounds ($3,000) a month.
Liverpool said it would top up salaries to ensure staff still received the full amount but that still means using public funds to pay some staff. Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher called that a poor move, saying �respect and goodwill is lost� by the club.
The European champions have been owned for a decade by John Henry�s Fenway Sports Group, which also features the Boston Red Sox.
Liverpool made a pre-tax profit of 42 million pounds on a turnover of 533 million pounds last year and it said complex talks continue with players about savings on salaries. A meeting of Premier League clubs on Friday had ended with agreement on the need to ask players to see 30 per cent of their pay cut or deferred. But the standoff between the players� union and clubs continues.
�The players are mindful that... the combined tax on their salaries is a significant contribution to funding essential public services which are especially critical at this time,� the PFA said in a statement.
�Taking a 30 per cent salary deduction will cost the Exchequer (treasury) substantial sums. If the season cannot be completed, the Premier League could owe broadcasters a reported 762 million pounds. Burnley, which has nine of its 38 games remaining, estimates a cash shortfall of 50 million pounds.�
The union raised the prospect of a lengthy spell without games. Reducing pay by 30 per cent over a year equated to 500 million pounds, the PFA said, claiming the government would lose out on more than 200 million pounds in tax.
�What effect does this loss of earning to the government mean for the NHS?� the PFA statement continued.
�Was this considered in the Premier League proposal and did the health secretary, Matt Hancock, factor this in when asking players to take a salary cut?�
The PFA said players would still like precise details of our commitment settled, recognizing a need to help their clubs, non-playing staff, lower-league sides and the health service.
�However, to achieve a collective position for all Premier League players of which there are many different financial and contractual circumstances from club-to-club will take a bit more time,� the union said.
There are moves to cut costs at the English game�s governing body, the Football Association, with the national teams unable to play and the FA Cup suspended. Broadcaster Sky Sports reported Saturday that England manager Gareth Southgate had agreed to a 30 per cent pay cut. � AP