French football reached agreement to cut wages in April

Passers-by near the Parc des Princes, in March, in Paris. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

French football leaders are still unaware of the date of the end of confinement due to the coronavirus, and therefore of a possible resumption of competitions. But they would already like to see more clearly on the amount of the monthly payslips. Starting with those for all their employees – players and administrative staff – at the end of April.

According to our information, in addition to the partial unemployment scheme (70% of gross salary) which many clubs already use, a general agreement was found on Tuesday April 7 to achieve a temporary drop in the payroll this month , that is, a deferred payment of wages.

A meeting on this subject brought together by videoconference, during the day, four representatives of the players and as many for the leaders. Last formality, on an unknown date: the text will soon be submitted for formal approval to the joint committee of the Professional Football League (LFP).

The clubs would have another wish: to receive a letter from the Ministry of the Economy, quitting the operation, so as not to expose themselves to reproaches during subsequent inspections.

Variable decreases according to the level of wages

"We are at the end of the discussions, we can say that today the clubs have accepted our recommendations", argues at World Philippe Piat, co-president of the National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP), the footballers' union. The idea being to" go fast ", according to the Union of Professional Football Clubs (UCPF), the main union of club presidents.

The principle of the agreement, already mentioned in The Team, consists of a temporary reduction in wages for the month of April through a deferred payment ("A cash advance", according to the expression of the UCPF): the sums concerned will be returned as soon as the clubs collect the money linked to television broadcasting rights, the Canal + and BeIN Sports channels having for the moment decided to suspend all payments.

Players receiving less than 10,000 euros monthly salary would not be affected by this scheme. Beyond that, four installments should be put in place: 20% less remuneration in April for players earning between 10,000 and 20,000 euros; 30%, for those between 20,000 and 50,000 euros; 40%, for those between 50,000 and 100,000; and finally 50% less for those receiving salaries above 100,000 euros per month.

"We go there month by month"

At World, several club leaders have expressed concern. Gérard Lopez, in Lille, for example: "In France, except perhaps Paris-Saint-Germain, there are no clubs that can afford to pay players salaries for a few months without having any income. For the moment, you have to make an effort for a month. We'll see if it lasts and we end up in a much more serious situation. We go there month by month. We advance without knowing what is going to happen. You have to manage the short term. "

For Bernard Caïazzo, the president of Saint-Etienne, these deferred payments are all the more necessary as they will complement the system already put in place by the State. He who is also president of Premier League, the employers' union representing most of the Ligue 1 clubs, considers that the aid linked to short-time working "Allow us to reduce our salary expenses by around 50%". An already significant reduction. But not sufficient, according to him, given the salaries of his athletes: "Partial unemployment plays much less of its role than with a similar company in the entertainment sector, since 90% of our payroll is above the ceiling of 4.5 times the minimum wage. "

On a necessarily sensitive subject, some players have already expressed their point of view. Brazilian Rafael, who plays in Lyon, would understand the idea of ​​a "Significant drop in wages". "But it has to be done democratically, he explained in an interview to Progress, Sunday April 5. We are a club, we need a vote and an agreement between us. "

Important point: the future agreement for the month of April may be refused by the players, on a case-by-case basis. "In the context of social dialogue, legally, we must never forget that it is up to the employee to accept or not", specifies Gautier Kertudo, lawyer in labor and sports law.

If a player refuses a deferred payment of his salary, he can sign a "Endorsement", specifies Philippe Piat. The UNFP co-president said the agreement is about to enter into force only for the month of April. Remuneration to be paid in May and June will be the subject of other discussions, depending on the development of the health crisis.

Read also The wages of footballers at the heart of the controversy in England


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