The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) have dismissed the Premier League's appeal for players to cut their wages, questioning the logic behind the proposal.
Football in the UK has been indefinitely postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, meaning clubs will miss out on vast sums of money through lack of ticket sales, while the Premier League are also facing massive penalties from broadcasters if they cannot show their remaining fixtures.
Meanwhile, several Premier League clubs, including 2019 Champions League finalists Liverpool and Tottenham, have put non-playing staff on furlough, sparking widespread condemnation, as wealthy owners look to use a government scheme originally designed to help small to medium-sized businesses.
In addition, the government's health secretary Matt Hancock - in a display of cheap political point-scoring - has called on Premier League footballers to take pay cuts.
It's all got a bit messy now, so here's a summary of everything you need to know in the ongoing debate.
What Have the Premier League Proposed?
Premier League clubs to consult players on 30% wage cut as resumption delayed https://t.co/Ll8siM8QwW— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) April 3, 2020
After calls from the English government for players to accept cuts to their wages, the Premier League have proposed that all players agree to slash their wages by 30% to help keep the league afloat.
The hope is to ensure that there is enough money to continue to pay non-playing staff at all the clubs, while some of the funds will also be donated to lower-league sides to ensure they can survive the loss of ticket revenue.
The PFA's Response
PFA says proposed 30% salary cut for players equates to over £500m in wage reductions & a loss in tax contributions of over £200m to the government.— Dan Roan (@danroan) April 4, 2020
“What effect does this loss of earning to the government mean for the NHS? Was this considered in the Premier League proposal?” pic.twitter.com/aurRqtDhfO
However, in response, the PFA (the trade union for all players) released a statement on their official website on the behalf of the players, in which they condemned the proposal over fears that it wouldn't actually be beneficial.
They note that slashing player wages would see a loss of £200m in tax payments to the UK government, adding that they did not believe either the Premier League or health secretary
No one is looking good here. PFA now taking line of attack that cutting salaries will in fact hurt the NHS. By this logic, perhaps clubs should not cut player salaries but increase them by 30 percent so the exchequer gets more in tax. Perhaps they’ll also support 90% tax rate.— tariq panja (@tariqpanja) April 4, 2020
Jordan Henderson's Donation Campaign
The Athletic are one of many outlets to cover the efforts by Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, who has been working with captains from the other 19 sides to make a collective donation to the NHS.
They want to ensure that the money they donate goes to the right places, rather than funding certain areas of the government or the Premier League which don't necessarily need the money right now.
6.The players we have spoken recognise that the non-playing staff are a vital part of their club and they do not want to see club staff furloughed unfairly. Any use of the government’s support schemes without genuine financial need is detrimental to the wider society.— Professional Footballers' Association (@PFA) April 2, 2020
The players are concerned that the money could go towards helping wealthy club owners, rather than aiding the struggling NHS or ensuring non-playing staff at all clubs can retain their full salary.
To see these clubs agree to slash their staff wages before talks of a wage cut were even completed has come as a real surprise to players, who believe non-playing staff have been treated unfairly by some of the world's wealthiest clubs.
'Players Feeling Like Scapegoats'
Alongside those concerns, there is now growing tension between clubs and players. Many players feel as though their teams have allowed them to become scapegoats in the whole situation.
Newcastle defender Danny Rose told BBC Radio 5 Live that players are happy to do their part, but they feel as though their 'backs are against the wall', with league and government officials both challenging players to donate their wages.
Talks are expected to continue, with players all eager to help, but only if the campaign makes sense. They want to help the NHS and protect all staff at their clubs, but they don't feel as though that is a guarantee right now.