Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock has called on Premier League stars to do their bit during the ongoing coronavirus crisis and accept pay cuts.
A number of clubs have so far made staff take pay cuts, but are yet to cut the salaries of their on-field stars.
Mirror Sport understands that a number of Premier League clubs have begun a campaign to try and get all 20 clubs to sign up to a collective bargaining agreement to bring in wage cuts, deferrals and also make use of the Government’s furlough scheme.
However, the Professional Footballers’ Association has written to all of its members telling them not to accept wage cuts or deferrals without speaking to them first.
Now Hancock, asked about the morality of cuts to players salaries not yet being made, has had his say.
“I think everybody needs to play their part in this national effort and that means Premier League footballers too,” declared Hancock.
“Given the sacrifices that many people are making – including some of my colleagues in the NHS, who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice of going into work and have caught the disease and have sadly died – I think the first thing Premier League footballers can do is make a contribution, take a pay cut and play your part.”
Pressure is growing on players, such as £350,000-a-week Mesut Ozil and £300,000-a-week David de Gea, to take pay cuts and not just defer their huge salaries for two or three months.
Across Europe others have agreed to take a chunk out of their salaries to keep football going with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund among those reducing their player salaries.
Barcelona has asked its players to take cuts in Spain, while Atletico Madrid have agreed to do likewise.
The Premier League, EFL and PFA are set for another meeting on Friday, after Wednesday’s negotiations ended without any concrete agreement.
Hancock’s plea came after DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight called for a windfall tax to be imposed on Premier League clubs who refuse to cut the salaries of highly-paid star players while cutting pay of non-playing staff on furlough.
Knight, who previously voted against paying higher benefits to those unable to work due to illness or disability, and for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits, but who voted against higher taxes on banks, wrote to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to make the demand.
“We are facing an obscene situation where top players who aren’t working are continuing to see hundreds of thousands of pounds roll in each week while the staff who keep the clubs going are losing wages,” he declared.
“If the Premier League isn’t going to act to resolve this crisis then the Government must step in by imposing a significant financial penalty on clubs to reimburse those hit hardest in the pocket.”
Tottenham, Newcastle, Bournemouth and Norwich have all signed up to the Government’s job retention scheme. Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe has volunteered to take a pay cut, while Brighton’s Graham Potter has followed suit.