April 3, 2020 / 2:42 PM / 2 months ago

Premier League to push players for 30% wage cut, restart date on hold

(Reuters) - The Premier League has said its clubs will consult with their players over a proposed 30% reduction in wages and the suspended season would only resume when it was “safe and appropriate”.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United v Watford - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - February 23, 2020 General view of a match ball held by Manchester United's David de Gea during the warm up before the match Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith//File Photo

The league accepted that a previous target of returning to action in early May would not now happen and said on Friday it was keeping the restart date under “constant review”.

While there has been speculation about a reduced season or even abandoning this campaign, the league said the aim was still to complete all remaining domestic league and cup matches.

"However, any return to play will only be with the full support of Government and when medical guidance allows," it added in a statement here

With lower league clubs facing a cash-flow crisis due to the coronavirus outbreak, the top-flight teams voted to make an advance of 125 million pounds ($153.13 million) to the Football League (EFL) and National League sides.

The EFL, which consists of the 72 professional clubs in the three divisions below the Premier League, said the cash they would receive from the top flight included early solidarity payments, parachute payments and Academy Grants.

Much of the focus of talks between officials this week has been the issue of player compensation during the halt in play.

The league said its clubs “unanimously agreed to consult their players regarding a combination of conditional reductions and deferrals amounting to 30 percent of total annual remuneration”.

Talks with the players’ union, the PFA, will continue on Saturday, as the two sides seek an agreement on compensation during the stoppage.

PUBLIC FEELING

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said it was right that players’ wages were on the table when there were lower-paid staff at some clubs being furloughed.

“The football authorities must all be aware of the strength of public feeling on this and I expect them to show leadership on the matter,” he said.

The Premier League said it was “committing 20 million pounds to support the NHS (National Health Service), communities, families and vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This includes a direct financial contribution to the NHS and funds to enable clubs to refocus their efforts and develop significant outreach programmes to help communities, including those most in need.”

Less than 24 hours after Health Minister Matt Hancock said players should take a pay cut and “play their part” in the national effort to tackle the pandemic, two moves also emerged from the players themselves.

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire asked his team mates to donate 30% of their salaries to local hospitals and was given backing by the squad.

England defender Maguire was among the 20 Premier League captains who took part in a call on Thursday evening to discuss a collective response and donation with plans now expected to be developed.

Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Ken Ferris

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