Arsenal players have rejected taking a proposed 12.5% wage cut to be spread over 12 months in light of the coronavirus crisis and its financial implications.
A number of Premier League sides are looking to cut costs while football is indefinitely suspended. Some have controversially opted to furlough non-playing staff, while Southampton have successfully negotiated a partial wage deferral with their players and coaches.
Collectively, Premier League players have already signed up to the #PlayersTogether movement to donate money to the NHS to help fund the response to the virus, but clubs had previously voted in favour of at least consulting their players over also taking a wage cut of up to 30%.
Arsenal players already face up to a 25% pay cut as a result of clauses written into each contract if the club once again misses out on Champions League football. The 12.5% cut would have been in addition – but the Daily Telegraph reports the players have voted it down.
The newspaper explains that Arsenal had already made concessions to push the proposed cut through. For example, any player who signs a new contract in future would be awarded the deducted payments in addition to their new salary, while any player sold by the Gunners while the 12.5% cut was in effect would receive the full deduction back when they leave.
Some Arsenal players are said to have voted in favour, but the Telegraph notes that the proposal fell short of the necessary three-quarters majority and that none of the squad’s more senior professionals or highest earners were on board.
The PFA has urged players to be fully aware of what they are agreeing to regarding pay reductions and advises that only deferrals should be accepted, rather than cuts.
This would appear to be the advice the Arsenal players are sticking to as The Athletic pointed out that their preference was indeed for a deferral over cut. It is suggested that the players were prepared to accept a 20% deferral, but the club would expect a deferral to be much higher.
The Athletic adds that certain Arsenal players have been left questioning why cuts are being proposed before the extent of any financial damage is known, while it has also been suggested that negotiating directly with players without agents was intended to force the cut through.
The Athletic also writes of scepticism from players over Arsenal’s motivation for cuts, players seeking assurances that any funds saved would protect non-playing staff, as well as players wanting to see the club’s ownership contribute – Stan Kroenke has an estimated $10bn fortune.
This week, Gary Neville called for any clubs cutting wages to be hit with a transfer ban that would subsequently stop teams splashing out in the transfer market when they claim they cannot pay their staff.
The obvious example there was Newcastle, who were ready to break their £40m transfer record in January only a matter of weeks before furloughing employees.