Premier League to meet PFA over plans to cut player wages

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The Premier League will meet the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) on Saturday over clubs’ proposals to cut player wages by 30 per cent during the coronavirus pandemic.

The league’s 20 sides met on Friday, when they unanimously agreed to consult their players over a “combination of conditional reductions and deferrals amounting to 30 per cent of total annual remuneration”.

The move came after pressure from MPs, including Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who said on Thursday that Premier League players should “play their part” by taking a pay cut.

A number of Premier League sides, including Tottenham and Newcastle, have already furloughed non-playing staff while players remain on full pay.

At the same meeting, it was also agreed that matches will not resume at the beginning of May and that the season will only restart when it is safe to do so.

The league also said a £125m solidarity payment will be made to the English Football League (EFL) and £20m will be donated to the NHS.

The Premier League released a statement after Friday’s meeting, reading: “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.”

The statement was released amid efforts by a group of senior Premier League players to organize crisis fund  to support the NHS.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is understood to be heavily involved in the organisation of the fund, which could lead to millions of pounds worth of donations.

“It is absolutely right that a reduction of players’ wages is on the table when there are lower-paid staff at some clubs being furloughed,” said Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston.

“The football authorities must all be aware of the strength of public feeling on this and I expect them to show leadership on the matter.

“It is important that the Premier League helps the national effort in response to the coronavirus pandemic and I will continue to work closely with the football authorities.”

The Premier League reiterated a desire to complete the 2019-20 season but confirmed that matches will be suspended beyond April 30, the date English football had previously been suspended until.

The meeting came a day after UEFA urged its members not to “abandon” the current season and threatened expulsion from European competition for those who ignored their guidance.

Liverpool were 25 points clear at the top of the table and needed just two more wins to secure the title when the Premier League was suspended on March 13.

Clubs are facing “substantial and continuing” losses and something has to give, with costs soaring each day at a time of no matches.

The proposal to reduce and defer up to 30 per cent of a player’s annual income, based on certain conditions, highlights a sense of unprecedented urgency.

The fact the Premier League has requested talks with the PFA on Saturday demonstrates the need for a decision as quickly as possible.

Representatives from the League Managers’ Association will also be involved in the discussions, given the obvious impact to their members too.

Clubs agreed to advance £125m to the EFL and National League, money they were owed anyway, but it may yet prove vital to some clubs further down the football pyramid in a financial crisis.

 

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