Southampton first EPL club to defer players’ wages - GulfToday

Southampton first EPL club to defer players’ wages


Southampton were seven points above the relegation places when the Premier League season was suspended. File / Agence France-Presse

Southampton on Thursday became the first Premier League club to announce their players will defer several months of their salaries during the coronavirus pandemic.

The club’s directors as well as manager Ralph Hasenhuttl and his staff will also adopt the measure until June.

The Premier League has called on players to take a 30-per cent pay cut across all clubs but the players’ union has argued that that would have a negative impact on tax contributions to Britain’s health service.

Southampton said that in addition to the players deferring wages for April, May and June, the club will also not use the government’s furlough scheme during that time.

In a statement, it said all club staff not deferring their salaries will “continue to receive 100% of their pay”.

Southampton, who were seven points above the relegation places when the season was suspended, said the players’ wage deferrals will “help protect the future of the club, the staff that work within it and the community we serve”.

The decision comes amid a row about whether Premier League players -- with an average salary of three million pounds ($3.7 million) -- should be forced to give up some of their salary to help the nation.

Bobby Barnes, deputy chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association (PFA), said players were being demonised by people who ignored the fact many were helping “extended families” at home and abroad.

Barnes’s defence of the players came after stars including Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson and England captain Harry Kane launched an initiative to generate funds for Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), called #PlayersTogether.

It will involve players making voluntary contributions and has been hailed as a “fantastic” initiative by the NHS.

Barnes was speaking before the players’ announcement, which omitted any mention of the PFA.

The former West Ham forward said those outside football should not see issues as black or white.

“There are shades of grey,” said the 57-year-old. “I don’t want players to be demonised.

“It’s as if our players are off buying gold Rolls-Royces every day. They’re not.”

Barnes -- whose niece is an NHS midwife -- dismissed the suggestion that players lived in a bubble.

“Everybody’s suggesting the players are not aware of the economic realities of this situation,” he said.

“Players are not blind to what’s going on in the wider world.

“The vast majority of footballers are all working-class boys, like my generation, and we are all very aware of what’s going on out there.”

Barnes -- whose boss Gordon Taylor has declined to take a cut to his own £2 million salary -- said foreign players were contributing to the battle.

“Spanish players, Italian players, particularly the African players are saying, we would like to donate money, but we want to divert money to some of our countries where we have some real severe difficulties,” he said.

“Another thing that doesn’t get picked up is they’re supporting extended families, overseas players.

“I’m also talking to local players, who are supporting extended families, doing what they can to help them.

“That’s their working-class background.”

Barnes was scathing about politicians including Health Secretary Matt Hancock criticising footballers.

Hancock caused a furore last Thursday when he called on players to “play their part” and take pay cuts.

“The players were really insulted when Hancock made that particular comment,” said Barnes.

Hancock -- whose department has been subject to hefty criticism for a lack of preparedness for the pandemic -- admitted the players’ NHS initiative was a huge step forward.

The decision of Premier League leaders Liverpool and last year’s beaten Champions League finalists Tottenham to furlough staff and use the government scheme was met with an angry response in Britain, although Liverpool quickly reversed their decision.


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