Most of Arsenal’s first-team players and all the coaching staff have agreed to take pay cuts of up to 12.5% over the next year. The club announced on Monday that Mikel Arteta’s squad had accepted their proposal in the first development of its type in the Premier League, although a handful are, in fact, understood still to be in discussions about the deal.

Talks are ongoing with a small number of players – thought to be fewer than five. The proposal remains on the table and there have been no outright rejections; hope remains that, when individual circumstances have been accounted for and minds put at ease, the entire squad will have signed up to the club’s course of action.

It marks a significant turnaround given that, as recently as the middle of last week, most of the 27 first-teamers were pressing for a deferral rather than a pay reduction. By Friday, though, the club was confident a unanimous decision to accept cuts would be reached within 48 hours after Arteta intervened to push their argument in a group call with his players.

They have fallen just short of that aim but the agreement will trim Arsenal’s £230m wage bill by around £25m, a sum that will go some way towards offsetting the difficulties – including gaps in financial and commercial income – caused by the Covid-19 shutdown. The club said it was “based on the assumption we will finish the season 2019/20 and receive the full broadcasting revenues”. Arsenal’s statement outlined that the discussions had been “positive and constructive” and partly explained the deal’s structure.

“Reductions of total earnings by 12.5% will come into effect this month, with the contractual paperwork being completed in the coming days,” the statement read. “If we meet specific targets in the seasons ahead, primarily linked to success on the pitch, the club will repay agreed amounts. We will be able to make those repayments as hitting these targets, which the players can directly influence, will mean our financial position will be stronger.”

These repayments are understood to include a full reimbursement if Arsenal qualify for the Champions League when the 2019-20 season resumes, and a reduction to a 7.5% cut if Europa League football is secured. Arteta’s team are eight and five points short respectively of those objectives, although they had not lost in eight top-flight games before football was paused.

The collective change in stance will be seen as a triumph for Arteta’s leadership skills, given the head coach’s undoubted influence in reversing a situation that risked becoming awkward for all sides. He and his assistants have also taken cuts. Arsenal’s executive team agreed to waive a third of their earnings last week.

Arsenal are the first Premier League squad to accept such a proposal, although Chelsea’s players have indicated they would be willing to take a 10% cut. Southampton and West Ham have agreed deferrals with their players and it remains to be seen whether Arsenal’s situation affects stances elsewhere in the division.

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