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The Premier League and its clubs are facing the prospect of losing the community capital that they are built upon, as the pay dispute between players and clubs continues to heighten.
Liverpool have become the latest club to see its players reject a 30 per cent pay cut during the coronavirus pandemic with clubs opting to use a government bailout scheme to furlough non-playing staff.
This action by Liverpool players follows in the footsteps of Tottenham, Newcastle and Norwich, who all reduced the wages of their non-playing staff while topping up wages under the government’s furlough scheme.
The move has been criticised from all quarters with former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher labelling it as “poor” and the “respect and goodwill” of clubs at risk of being lost.
The Professional Footballer’s Association claims the British government would lose more than £200 million ($409 million) in tax if the proposed 30 per cent cuts went ahead. However, politician Julian Knight claims: “It sticks in the throat. This exposes the crazy economics in English football and the moral vacuum at its centre”.
The exorbitant wages that are earned by Premier League footballers has been at the centre of the debate as the mayor of London Sadiq Khan told BBC Radio 5 Live: “Highly paid football players are the people who can carry the greatest burden and they should be the first one to with respect sacrifice their salary”.
Rarely has the relationship between the Premier League stars and their employees been so fragile as the PFA continues to argue against wage cuts and have called on the Premier League to increase its own charity pledge. This public feuding comes at a time when more than 4000 people have died in the UK due to the coronavirus with politician Oliver Dowden tweeting: “Concerned about the turn football talks have taken… People do not want to see infighting in our national sport at a time of crisis”.
England manager Gareth Southgate has been reported to have made such a gesture as he sacrificed 30 per cent of his wages. This is only the start, as the balancing act between business and social awareness has reached a critical stage in attempting to slow down a pandemic, which has halted the global community in its tracks.
Clubs themselves have voiced financial concerns if the current season is not finished while clubs further down the football pyramid face the prospect of entering administration. The Premier League are preparing to face a potential financial penalty of £762 million if the season does not resume with broadcasters demanding refunds on games that did not show.
England defender Danny Rose, speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, explained that players were keen to give up a portion of their wages to help good causes but felt their “backs are against the wall” in regards to the pressure and scrutiny that had come their way to accept cuts.
“I’ve been on the phone to Jordan Henderson and he’s working so hard to come up with something,” Rose said. “It was just not needed for people who are not involved in football to tell footballers what they should do with their money”.
Sport and community are connected in a unique way within our global society. Sport offers an outlet where groups of people are able to gather regardless of social standing and beliefs.
Sport is integral to our communities. And the tensions between the PFA and Premier League need to be resolved so purpose can live alongside profit.