Haro on football. For the past few days, England has been heating up on the way its balloon industry is managing the effects of the crisis caused by the coronavirus epidemic. It is mainly the players who are questioned about their participation in the efforts presented as necessary so that the Premier League clubs can pass the course of a period without a championship and, therefore, without part of the revenue which usually enters the boxes.
More precisely, it is what is seen as the non-participation of footballers in these efforts that is pointed out. Last weekend, Health Minister Matt Hancock called on them to lower their wages.
The statement came when a number of English Premier League clubs decided to use public money to continue paying their employees – excluding players.
"Morally unacceptable two-speed system"
Through the “Coronavirus job retention scheme”, the British government allows companies whose activities are strongly affected by the epidemic to put their employees on partial unemployment by guaranteeing 80% of their salary up to a ceiling of 2,500 pounds per month (around 2,800 euros).
Saturday April 4, the day after Matt Hancock's remarks, Liverpool management announced that it would use the device, joining Tottenham, Norwich, Newcastle and Bournemouth. What revive all the more the critics that Liverpool and Tottenham for example made, between them, profits more than 150 million pounds, according to their most recent accounts.
A few days earlier, the chair of the House of Commons sports committee, Julian Knight, had written to the government " to express (his) deep dismay at the decision made by some Premier League clubs to put their non-player employees on partial unemployment while continuing to pay their players. This two-speed system is morally unacceptable, especially given the very high wages paid to some players. "
30% drop in negotiation
However, discussions were initiated on Saturday between representatives of club management and representatives of footballers on possible salary cuts. The day before, the clubs had agreed to negotiate a 30% drop in players' annual salaries.
Such a prospect is not to the liking of the Footballers Union (PFA). According to its president, Gordon Taylor, to reduce the wages of the players to pay the other employees would amount to making pay to a category of employees the decisions of companies which did not show that their situation really requires these concessions.
The players "Want complete transparency. They are not stupid (…) They want to know the reasons and where the money will go, assured Gordon Taylor. I think if the clubs are not able (…) to fully explain their position, they should expect distrust from the players ".
Gordon Taylor also pointed out that if a 30% cut in wages would save £ 500 million a year for clubs, it would mean a loss of £ 200 million in contributions to taxes, "At the expense" including funding "From our NHS", the English healthcare system.
Agreement in Italy
The pressure to lower player salaries is not only at work in England. If a good number of German clubs embarked quickly on this path, in Spain for example, the players of FC Barcelona ended up subscribing to it after a beginning of controversy almost identical to that in force across the Channel.
In Italy, Serie A clubs, the first division, reached an agreement on Monday for a reduction "One third of gross annual remuneration" players in the event of final cancellation at the end of the season. If the championship were to resume, the drop would be "One-sixth of gross annual compensation". Clubs are now required to enter into agreements with their players.
As for France, discussions are underway between the representatives of the players and the clubs. According to'Team, the goal would be to achieve a deferred payment on a percentage of salary.
30% decrease for the English coach
The English Football Federation (FA) announced on Monday April 6 that "The people with the highest wages" within it " have accepted a reduction in their wages of up to 30% " due to the financial crisis linked to the coronavirus. Men's national team coach Gareth Southgate, who is estimated to pay £ 3 million a year, is affected by the move. Recalling that it is a non-profit organization and that all of its income is used to finance grassroots football, the FA has estimated the minimum cost of the crisis linked to l to 100 million pounds (115 million euros) Covid-19 epidemic. But this figure "Could easily exceed 150 million pounds depending on the duration of medical measures deemed necessary by the government". The court adds that it will not close the door to partial unemployment measures.