Premier League clubs have all agreed to discuss their players taking wage cuts or deferrals of up to 30 per cent after their latest round of talks on Friday.
The top flight have also voted to advance the EFL and National League’s £125m payment as they continue to battle the effects of the coronavirus.
And is has also been agreed that the Premier League will make a £20m donation to the NHS, local communities, families and groups who have been affected by the coronavirus crisis.
Premier League clubs made some big calls at a crunch video conference meeting on Friday
The future of the league season was also high on the agenda at Friday’s crunch meeting, and it was decided that the Premier League, Football League, Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship will not return ‘until it is safe to do so’.
As exclusively revealed by Sportsmail, Manchester United became the first top-flight club to slash their salaries, sacrificing 30 per cent of their wages for one month with the understanding that it will go to hospitals and health centres throughout Manchester in the fight against coronavirus.
Similar moves are now set to be echoed across the league following Friday’s video conference involving all 20 clubs.
In the Premier League’s statement, they wrote: ‘The restart date is under constant review with all stakeholders, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic develops and we work together through this very challenging time.’
Top-flight chiefs also confirmed there will be a further meeting with the PFA on Saturday, in which they will continue to discuss matters relating to the coronavirus.
Shortly after the Premier League’s statement, the EFL released a comment of their own, in which they thanked the top flight.
It reads: ‘The EFL also notes and appreciates the decision taken today by the Premier League in respect of the short-term financial relief it is to provide EFL Clubs through the advancement of solidarity payments, parachute payments and Academy Grants.
‘These actions will have a positive impact on individual Clubs across our three divisions at a difficult and uncertain time.’
Earlier, United’s big decision came an hour and a half into Friday’s crunch meeting, with Sportsmail revealing that the portion of players’ wages are going to be used to benefit hospitals and health centres throughout Manchester in the fight against the coronavirus.
Captain Harry Maguire was approached by chairman Ed Woodward about the idea. The England defender opened up the initiative to the rest of the senior squad, who are believed to have overwhelmingly agreed.
Manchester United became the first side in the Premier League to cut their players’ salaries
United captain Harry Maguire was addressed by chairman Ed Woodward about the proposal
UNITED STARS’ £3.5M NHS GIFT
Exclusive by Sami Mokbel
Manchester United players are set to donate millions to the NHS after agreeing to take a wage reduction.
Sportsmail understands that Old Trafford stars have agreed to forgo 30 percent of their wages for one month on the proviso that the money is used to benefit hospitals and health centres throughout Manchester in the fight against the coronavirus.
Captain Harry Maguire was approached by chairman Ed Woodward about the idea. The England defender opened up the initiate to the rest of the senior squad, who are believed to have overwhelmingly agreed.
There is a view at United as one of the richest and biggest clubs in world football, they want to be leading the way in the fight against coronavirus.
The generous gesture will see millions of pounds injected into the crisis that has taken grip of the nation.
The playing community have been criticised in recent days, particularly after their union the Professional Footballers Association publicly declared they would not be accepting pay cuts.
But players, in general, are desperate to do their part – and United players’ huge donation represents that feeling.
Heading into Friday’s discussion, there was much pressure being applied by fans, politicians and former professionals on players to take a hefty wage cut.
Clubs have come under heavy scrutiny for utilising the government’s furlough scheme for their non-playing staff, while still allowing their players to take home, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of pounds a week.
Eddie Howe became the first Premier League figure to take a significant cut to his wages earlier in the week, and the Bournemouth boss was followed by his Brighton counterpart Graham Potter shortly after.
Tottenham in particular came under fire for their use of the furlough scheme, placing all of their 550 non-playing staff on it and leaving the government to foot the bill.
The timing was extraordinarily bad too, given that it coincided with the club releasing their financial figures. While the least well-paid employees of the club take home 80 per cent of their wages, it was revealed that chairman Daniel Levy earned an extra £3m on top of his £4m salary for overseeing the completion of the club’s new stadium.
On Thursday, Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe was the first top-flight manager to take a pay-cut
Football clubs up and down the country are locked and there is no football on the horizon
HENDERSON LEADS THE CHARGE WITH NHS CRISIS FUND
The England midfielder has spent much of this week contacting the captains of other Premier League clubs to pitch the idea to his fellow players.
It is understood the scheme was thought up prior to Health Secretary Matt Hancock‘s scathing comments about footballers needing to ‘play their part’ amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The impressive initiative, which looks set to raise millions of pounds for the stretched National Health Service in a time of deep crisis, is said to have received a wholly positive response from players across the top flight.
Talks are continuing, and players also want to seek NHS and government guidance on the best way to distribute the money to where it is most needed.
Contact has already been made with various banks to set up the fund.
Tottenham were slammed for not lowering the wages of their players, as it was revealed it would only need a 2.77 per cent cut of their pay to cover a £30,000-a-year wage for every one of the club’s 550 non-playing staff.
On the subject, the club’s former manager Harry Redknapp told The Sun: ‘I can’t believe it. Surely players should be taking a cut. This isn’t for big clubs like Tottenham.
‘I thought the Government were going to pay ordinary people who are struggling and help small businesses who are struggling. But you are talking here about a club where their players earn £10-12million a year.
‘Tottenham are owned by Joe Lewis, one of the richest men in the world, and his club are cutting the wages of all their non-football staff by 20 per cent. I can’t believe it.’
Gary Lineker, meanwhile, directed his anger towards the clubs rather than the players, insisting they had put their stars in an extremely difficult position by paying them in full while furloughing non-playing staff.
Speaking to Sky News, Lineker said: ‘It is now up to the players how they respond. Lets give them a chance to respond before this hugely judgemental pile-on we always get nowadays.
‘Footballers are always an easy target. I hate whataboutery but where are the big businessmen, where are the CEO’s of these enormous companies. What are they doing at the moment?
‘Nobody ever seems to care about them but footballers, who do an unbelievable amount of good in the community generally that never gets reported on, who do lots of things to raise awareness during these difficult times.
Wage cuts for players in the Premier League have finally been agreed following much criticism
The Premier League are giving the NHS £20million to help with the ongoing coronavirus crisis
WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT’S FURLOUGH SCHEME?
When an employee is placed on furlough they are temporarily put on a leave of absence and not paid, although they remain on the payroll, meaning that they do not lose their job.
This could be because there is no work for these employees, or that the company is not able to afford to pay them, because of the effects of the coronavirus crisis.
In the United Kingdom, the Government is offering to pay 80 per cent of a furloughed employee’s wages, up to £2,500 per month, until they are able to resume their job full time. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will last for at least three months from March 1.
‘So let’s wait and see and see where they go. I’ll be the first in a few weeks time to criticise them if they do nothing.’
The Premier League’s decision to wait and make a collective judgment came amid fears they could have lost their star names for free in the summer.
It was reported earlier in the week that the 20 Premier League clubs were worried about breaching their players’ contracts if they put their head above the parapet and made a decision regarding wage cuts without the agreement of the other clubs.
It was believed that players could then cite loss of earnings and break free from their contracts to leave for pastures new in the summer.
Although the Premier League have now taken action and will discuss 30 per cent cuts or deferrals, they are the last top European league to put plans in place.
Over in Spain this week, it has been a massive talking point, with Barcelona’s players taking a 70 per cent pay cut, as announced by Lionel Messi on his social media.
In the Bundesliga in Germany, both players and directors at Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have taken 20 per cent pay cuts, while Union Berlin – who sit 11th in the table – have agreed to go entirely without wages.
Gordon Taylor is the chief executive of the PFA and has been heavily criticised this week
Matt Hancock was quick to condemn top-flight footballers, but cuts are now being discussed
Borussia Monchengladbach’s players were the first in the country to offer to forgo wages, while the league’s big four – Dortmund, Bayern, Leipzig and Leverkusen, have all ploughed £17.7m each into a fund to help the second tier clubs who will struggle more than them in the coming months.
In Italy, meanwhile, Juventus players have waived four months’ wages in a move that could see Cristiano Ronaldo give up over £9m of his money to help the cause.
Politicians like Sadiq Khan and Matt Hancock were quick to condemn Premier League footballers for their lack of action, but Gary Neville slammed the latter in a sweary rant.
He said: ‘I wish I was a player for 10 more mins. The PL players are more than likely working on a proposal to help clubs, communities and the NHS. It takes longer than 2 weeks to put together.
‘Matt Hancock calling them out when he can’t get tests in place for NHS staff is a f@@@@@g cheek!’
PREMIER LEAGUE’S STATEMENT
At a meeting of Premier League Shareholders today, clubs discussed in detail how to respond to the COVID-19 global pandemic. First and foremost, it was reaffirmed that the overriding priority is to aid the health and wellbeing of the nation and our communities, including players, coaches, managers, club staff and supporters.
It was acknowledged that the Premier League will not resume at the beginning of May – and that the 2019/20 season will only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so. The restart date is under constant review with all stakeholders, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic develops and we work together through this very challenging time.
The Premier League is working closely with the whole of professional football in this country, as well as with the Government, public agencies and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the game achieves a collaborative solution. With this, there is a combined objective for all remaining domestic league and cup matches to be played, enabling us to maintain the integrity of each competition. However, any return to play will only be with the full support of Government and when medical guidance allows.
The sporting and financial implications for Premier League clubs as well as for The FA, EFL and National League were considered at today’s meeting.
In the face of substantial and continuing losses for the 2019/20 season since the suspension of matches began, and to protect employment throughout the professional game, Premier League clubs unanimously agreed to consult their players regarding a combination of conditional reductions and deferrals amounting to 30 per cent of total annual remuneration. This guidance will be kept under constant review as circumstances change. The League will be in regular contact with the PFA and the union will join a meeting which will be held tomorrow between the League, players and club representatives.
Discussions also took place regarding financial relief for clubs in the short term and while there is no single solution, measures are to be put in place to immediately deal with the impact of falling cash flow. Critically, the League unanimously voted to advance funds of £125 million to the EFL and National League as it is aware of the severe difficulties clubs throughout the football pyramid are suffering at this time.
Further to that assistance, the League remains committed to supporting the National Health Service, its staff and helping people in communities, not least those who are most vulnerable. The League, clubs, players and managers express huge appreciation for the heroic efforts of NHS staff and all other key workers who are carrying out critical jobs in such difficult circumstances.
In consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Premier League is immediately committing £20 million to support the NHS, communities, families and vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes a direct financial contribution to the NHS and funds to enable clubs to refocus their efforts and develop significant outreach programmes to help communities, including those most in need. This funding will enable both immediate and longer-term support during the crisis.
In response to COVID-19, Premier League clubs have been supporting tens of thousands of people in their communities each and every day through targeted activity including donations to foodbanks, telephone calls to the elderly, food parcels delivered to the vulnerable and a wide range of free resources to support wellbeing and education. Many Premier League clubs are also working closely with their local NHS Trusts to provide valuable support through the provision of resources, volunteers and facilities. Now, more than ever, clubs are playing a vital role to support the wellbeing of those in their communities and alleviate pressure on critical health services.
Working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England and the NHS, the wide reach and appeal of the Premier League and our clubs will continue to be used to promote important public health messaging throughout this crisis.
The Premier League would like to reiterate that the thoughts of all our clubs are with all those directly affected by COVID-19.