AAP Soccer

Premier League players reject pay cut

By AAP Newswire

English Premier League players have rejected a move by clubs to cut their wages by 30 per cent during the coronavirus pandemic.

Escalating what has become a bitter public row, the Professional Footballers' Association claims the British government would lose more than 200 million pounds ($AU409 million) in tax if the plan goes ahead.

"This would be detrimental to our NHS (National Health Service) and other government-funded services," the PFA said in a statement on Saturday night.

Taking on the Premier League as a whole, it said the 20 million pounds being given to the NHS by the world's richest soccer competition was "welcome but we believe it could be far bigger".

The union's stance follows further talks involving clubs and the league, with Liverpool becoming the latest Premier League side to defy political anger and use a government bailout scheme to furlough non-playing staff.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told players at clubs furloughing staff to take a pay cut while Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston says the Premier League should ensure it "helps the national effort".

Liverpool, who lead the league by 25 points, have followed fellow 2019 Champions League finalists Tottenham, Bournemouth, Newcastle and Norwich in furloughing staff.

Under a job retention scheme to help businesses survive national lockdown, staff can be put on furlough and receive 80 per cent of their salaries from the government, up to 2,500 pounds a month.

Liverpool say they will top up salaries to ensure staff still receive the full amount but it still means using public funds to pay some staff.

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher says it's a "poor" move and "respect and goodwill is lost" by the club.

The European champions are owned by John Henry's Fenway Sports Group, which also features the Boston Red Sox.

Liverpool made a pre-tax profit of 42 million pounds on a turnover of 533 million pounds last year and say "complex" talks continue with players about savings on salaries.

A meeting of Premier League clubs on Friday ended with agreement on the need to ask players to see 30 per cent of their pay cut or deferred.

"The players are mindful that ... the combined tax on their salaries is a significant contribution to funding essential public services - which are especially critical at this time," the PFA said.

"Taking a 30 per cent salary deduction will cost (treasury) substantial sums."

If the season cannot be completed, the Premier League could owe broadcasters a reported 762 million pounds.

Burnley, which has nine of its 38 games remaining, estimates a cash shortfall of 50 million pounds.

The union raised the prospect of a lengthy spell without games.

Reducing pay by 30 per cent over a year equated to 500 million pounds, the PFA said, claiming the government would lose out on more than 200 million pounds in tax.