But now, thanks to a turn of the light, what they have returned to society has become closely linked to what they were ready to give back to their clubs.
Many players felt that Tottenham’s decision was an attempt to back them off into the corner, forcing them to take a cut in pay or risk appearing greedy, distant and out of touch during the pandemic. To some extent, it worked: two days later, the country’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, urged the players to “play their part” by taking a pay cut.
Conservative Party lawmaker Julian Knight linked players’ wages to health care workers, stating that “the first thing Premier League footballers can do is make a contribution, take a cut and play their role ”, given the“ sacrifices ”being made by frontline health care workers.
The players, however, did not see so clearly the connection between these two things. They wanted to help, but wondered if doing it with a pay cut – rather than direct donations – could just save money for their team owners, rather than benefiting health care. Their wages are taxed, after all; any reduction would reduce the revenue of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and, ultimately, the N.H.S.
This is further complicated by the role of the players’ union, led by its long-time chief executive, Gordon Taylor, who is considered the highest paid union leader in the world. The union doesn’t just work for Premier League players; it also represents the interests of hundreds of professionals further down the football pyramid.
His concern during the negotiations was that any agreement with the Premier League could be copied later for use in the lower leagues, where wages are significantly lower. His priority was to protect members who could not afford a reduction in wages, or who had already received club letters ordering them to accept a reduced salary.