Premier League football has been accused of operating in a “moral vacuum” after clubs cut wages or furloughed non-playing staff but continued to pay players their full wage.
Before a meeting on Wednesday at which the Premier League, English Football League and Professional Footballers’ Association will continue talks regarding pay, there was outspoken criticism from politicians.
Julian Knight, the chair of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, said: “It sticks in the throat. This exposes the crazy economics in English football and the moral vacuum at its centre.”
Tottenham said on Tuesday they had reduced the wages of their 550 non-football staff by 20%, in some cases by placing them on furlough. Newcastle and Norwich have furloughed non-playing staff. Norwich said they would “top up” the wages their staff receive under the government’s furlough scheme to provide their usual salary in full.
Under the scheme the government will pay staff 80% of their wages, to a maximum of £2,500 a month.
The Tottenham chairman, Daniel Levy, said when announcing his club’s move that top-flight managers and players should help English football deal with the financial problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic by accepting lower pay.
It is understood the Premier League will report back to its clubs at Friday’s shareholders’ meeting before confirming any agreement on deferrals.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, told BBC Radio 5 Live: “Highly-paid football players are people who can carry the greatest burden and they should be the first one to, with respect, sacrifice their salary, rather than the person selling the programme or the person who does catering or the person who probably doesn’t get anywhere near the salary Premier League footballers get.”
The PFA is understood to be resisting deferment of players’ wages until negotiations have been held with clubs individually demonstrating cash flow problems and a genuine need to make savings now. The players’ union is also understood to be resistant to pay cuts, being prepared to discuss only deferments.