Arsenal announced it will cut the salaries of players and coaches; including manager Mikel Arteta by 12.5 percent, becoming the first prominent Premier League club to cut salaries due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, with the coffers of clubs largely affected due to game cancellations.
“We are pleased to announce that we have reached a voluntary agreement with our first-team players, head coach and core coaching staff to help support the club at this critical time,’’ the club said in the statement, quoted in an article of ESPN.
“The move follows positive and constructive discussions. In these conversations there has been a clear appreciation of the gravity of the current situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and a strong desire for players and staff to show their backing for the Arsenal family,’’ the statement added.
Arteta, who joined Arsenal after being an assistant coach at Manchester City last December to replace Unai Emery was included to the staff taking a pay cut. The Spaniard was diagnosed with COVID-19 in March, becoming some prominent faces in football that contracted the coronavirus but later recovered from the disease.
Southampton and West Brom also made cost-cutting steps with Southampton manager, David Moyes taking a 30 percent pay cut while its players and other coaches are taking a 10 percent pay cut for the next three months to help its vulnerable employees while West Brom chairman Mark Jenkins will not receive his salary until the pandemic is over.
Norwich City players and management also donated a fraction of their salaries to the people affected by the pandemic while Bournemouth and Brighton & Hove Albion senior management will be having a three- month pay cut.
But not all pay cuts were received well after Tottenham players and fans were angered by the 20 percent pay cut for its employees but the chairman of the club David Levy is still receiving a 30 percent raise on his salary, the decision for the pay cut was later overturned.
The Premier League have been in talks with the players for the 30 percent pay cut but the talks bogged down after the Professional Football Association (PFA) said, the move would cost the National Health Service (NHS), 200 million British Pounds in tax revenue loss and the owners will only be benefiting from the cost-cutting, with a 500 million British Pounds savings for the next 12 months.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has called the Premier League players to do their part in helping the NHS frontliners. The Premier League club captains led by Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson launched the #PlayersTogether fund drive to generate donations for NHS frontliners.
Hancock’s statements did not sit well with veteran British midfielder Wayne Rooney, which he told The Times, quoted in a report of ESPN. ‘’How the past few days have played out is a disgrace. First the health secretary, Matt Hancock, in his daily update on coronavirus, said that Premier League players should take a pay cut. He was supposed to be giving the nation the latest on the biggest crisis we’ve faced in our lifetimes. Why was the pay of footballers even in his head? Was he desperate to divert attention from his government’s handling of this pandemic?’’
“The Premier League then announced it was looking for its players to give up or defer wages by 30%. This despite owners and the Premier League board knowing players were already deep in discussion about what their contribution should be. It seemed strange to me because every other decision in this process has been kept behind closed doors, but this had to be announced publicly. Why? It feels as if it’s to shame the players — to force them into a corner where they have to pick up the bill for lost revenue,” Rooney added.
Arsenal said they will reimburse the players and coaches of the pay cut if the season resumed, the current season finished and the television contract was once paid. It’s expected the club will save 20 million British Pounds from the cost-cutting.
“Reductions of total annual earnings by 12.5% will come into effect this month, with the contractual paperwork being completed in the coming days. If we meet specific targets in the seasons ahead, primarily linked to success on the pitch, the club will repay agreed amounts. We will be able to make those repayments as hitting these targets, which the players can directly influence, will mean our financial position will be stronger,’’ the club explained in the statement.
“The agreement is based on the assumption we will finish the season 2019-20 and receive the full broadcasting revenues. The resulting savings will help cover some of the financial risks we have this season in relation to our matchday and commercial income.’’