The players union representing Premier League footballers has questioned the league’s call for a 30% player wage reduction amid the coronavirus crisis, saying it would reduce tax revenue for the National Health Service.
A video meeting between the Premier League, its players, representatives and the Professional Footballers’ Association took place in an effort to resolve the situation surrounding wages following high profile criticism of the league’s earning power.
On Friday, the league proposed a 30% player-pay deferral plan and also sanctioned a £125 million grant to clubs in the EFL and National League and a £20m donation to the National Health Service (NHS) to support the battle against the coronavirus.
The talks on Saturday were not described as a negotiation and no decision was expected to be taken, but the PFA issued a lengthy statement, not attributed to any official, which questioned the logic of the league’s stance.
“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 statement said.
“Taking a 30% salary deduction will cost the Exchequer substantial sums. This would be detrimental to our NHS and other government-funded services.”
The PFA added that the proposed 30% salary deduction over a 12-month period would equate to over £500 million ($613m) in wage reductions and a loss in tax contributions of over £200m to the government.
“What effect does this loss of earning to the government mean for the NHS? 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 union asked in their statement.
Hancock, said on Thursday that Premier League players need to take a pay cut and “play their part” during the pandemic. His comments came after intense public pressure to accept pay deferrals in the wake of Tottenham and Newcastle furloughing non-playing staff, at the same time as maintaining player wages at their usual level.
The PFA, which is mainly funded via Premier League broadcast revenue payments, said that the players wanted to provide financial help.
“All Premier League players want to, and will, play their part in making significant financial contributions in these unprecedented times,” the statement said.
“All Premier League players fully appreciate their role and responsibilities in society during this current crisis. They care deeply for those who are suffering with loss, health and hardship at the moment.”
The union said that the players want to ensure their financial contributions support the clubs they play for, non-playing staff, lower league clubs and the NHS.
The Premier League, like the rest of the high profile competitions across Europe, is suspended with no definitive date set for a return.
Elsewhere in Europe, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus have announced pay reductions to battle a loss of earnings during the crisis.
Barcelona have announced a 70% cut in salaries, as have Atletico Madrid, while Juventus players and coach Maurizio Sarri have reached an agreement over a wage reduction that will save the Italian champions €90m in the 2019-20 financial year.
Bayern Munich confirmed to ESPN their players will waive 20% of their salaries as Bundesliga clubs brace for the economic impact of the coronavirus.
Sources have told ESPN that senior players across the Premier League have held preliminary discussions about donating to key services in England to help battle the virus, although talks are at an early stage and no resolution has yet been reached.
Information from Reuters was used in this report.