A 30% cut in salaries for EPL players would hurt health services

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English Premier League players failed to reach an agreement on Saturday with clubs to cut wages by 30% during the coronavirus pandemic, which pushed up the bitter public line as their union claimed the government would lose over 200 million pounds (about $ 245 million) in taxes.

“It would harm our National Health Service (NHS) and other government-funded services,” the Professional Footballers Association said in a statement.

Focusing on the Premier League as a whole, the PFA said the £ 20 million donated to the NHS by the world’s richest football competition was “welcome, but we think it could be much bigger” .

Strident union stance came after further discussions on Saturday involving clubs and the league as Liverpool became the last Premier League team to defy political anger using a government bailout to lay off non-playing staff .

The government has said it is “concerned” about the deadlock between the players and their clubs.

“People don’t want to see the internal struggles in our national sport in times of crisis,” tweeted Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, whose cabinet file covers sport. “Football must play its part to show that sport understands the pressures faced by its lowest paid staff, communities and fans. “

Liverpool, who lead the league by 25 points, followed Tottenham, 2019 Champions League finalist, Bournemouth, Newcastle and Norwich to the staff on leave.

Employees can be put on leave as part of a job retention program to help businesses survive the national closure and receive 80% of their government wages, up to a maximum of £ 2,500. ($ 3000) per month.

Liverpool said it would raise wages to ensure staff always receive the full amount, but that still means using public funds to pay staff. Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher called it a “bad” decision, saying “respect and good will are lost” by the club.

The European champions have belonged to John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group for a decade, which also presents the Boston Red Sox. Liverpool made a pre-tax profit of £ 42 million on a turnover of £ 533 million last year and said “complex” discussions were continuing with players over savings on wages.

A meeting of Premier League clubs ended Friday with an agreement to ask players to see 30% of their wages reduced or deferred. But the deadlock between the players’ union and the clubs continues.

“The players are aware that … the combined tax on their salaries is a significant contribution to the funding of essential public services – which are particularly critical at the moment,” the PFA said in a statement. “Taking a 30% salary deduction will cost the public treasury substantial sums. “

If the season cannot be finished, the Premier League may owe broadcasters £ 762 million. Burnley, who has nine of his 38 games remaining, estimates a shortfall of £ 50 million.

The union raised the prospect of a long period without games. Cutting wages by 30% over a year is equivalent to £ 500 million, the PFA said, saying the government would lose more than £ 200 million in taxes.

“What effect does this loss of revenue for the government mean for the NHS?” The PFA statement continued. “Was this factored into the Premier League proposal and was Health Secretary Matt Hancock taken into account when he asked players to cut their wages? “

The PFA said players would still like “specific details of our engagement” to be worked out, recognizing the need to help their clubs, non-player staff, lower league teams and health services.

“However, reaching a collective position for all Premier League players – whose financial and contractual circumstances differ from club to club – will take a little longer,” said the union.

There are plans to cut costs in the governing body of English football, the Football Association, national teams unable to play and the FA Cup suspended. Sky Sports broadcaster reported on Saturday that British manager Gareth Southgate had agreed to a 30% pay cut.

“The financial implications of the coronavirus are not yet known, however, as a non-profit organization, we want to ensure that we take the appropriate steps to support the entire organization and our employees,” said the FA. “We will make a new announcement on our next steps in due course. “

Like many other countries, Britain is effectively locked in, with schools, bars, restaurants and many businesses shut down to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. The latest government data on Saturday showed that 4,313 people with COVID-19 died in UK hospitals, an increase from 708 the day before.

The coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, for most people. But for others, especially the elderly and people with existing health conditions, it can cause serious symptoms like pneumonia.

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Follow the AP coverage of the virus epidemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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Rob Harris is at www.twitter.com/RobHarris



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