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Men’s football We must work together, says FA chair

EVERYONE must “step up and share the pain” inflicted on football by the coronavirus pandemic, FA chairman Greg Clarke has said.

Clarke’s comments come as the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and clubs continue to go back and forth over a proposed 30 per cent pay cut.

The FA announced on Monday that its own top earners were taking a 30 per cent pay cut, with other members of senior management taking a 15 per cent cut.

Clarke told the FA council today: “Football faces economic challenges beyond the wildest imagination of those who run it.

“The pandemic will be followed by its economic consequences and all business sectors will suffer.

“We face the danger of losing clubs and leagues as finances collapse. Many communities could lose the clubs at their heart with little chance of resurrection.

“In the face of this unprecedented adversity, all the stakeholders within the game from players, fans, clubs, owners and administrators need to step up and share the pain to keep the game alive.”

Premier League clubs agreed last Friday that it would consult with players over conditional reductions and deferrals up to 30 per cent to offset the potential and actual losses caused by the pandemic.

The Football League is also negotiating with the PFA for what is understood to be an even higher percentage of deferral. The PFA wants each club’s need to make the savings to be assessed on an individual basis.

Two clubs — Sunderland and Crewe — announced today that they were furloughing playing staff. Businesses can place employees whose jobs have been affected by the pandemic on furlough and claim 80 per cent of their salaries up to a maximum of £2,500 a month via the government’s coronavirus job-retention scheme.

Sunderland said in a statement that they had “no intention” of asking players or coaching staff to defer wages or accept a cut, and were committed to ensuring all staff were paid in full by topping up salaries.

Liverpool and Tottenham, the Premier League’s two most profitable clubs in 2018-19, attracted widespread criticism for their furloughing of non-playing staff at the taxpayer’s expense, though Liverpool have since performed a U-turn.

Former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan weighed in to the argument, using his platform on radio station Talksport to lambast those who he feels “don’t want to” take a drop in salary.

“The basic principle behind this is the two most profitable football clubs in English football, Tottenham and Liverpool, are the two clubs who have gone out and made a stance,” Jordan said.

“I don’t understand why Liverpool fans are not more angry with their players not coming to the fore and taking a pay cut.

“The leverage which was being bought by this furlough — Liverpool don’t need £400,000 of savings from furlough, what Liverpool and Tottenham did it for is because they want to leverage the players because the players are not doing what they should be doing. Despite the assertions of people, they have done nothing in four weeks.”

One person who avoided Jordan’s wrath was PFA boss Gordon Taylor, who has defended his members and said that players “have agreed to play their part.”

Taylor, who on Monday refused to take a pay cut on his £2 million annual salary but did donate £500,000 to the PFA charity fund today, said: “We’ve been consistent with what we’ve said from the beginning and the fact is, the players feel quite aggrieved that the Secretary of State for Health [Matt Hancock, who very publicly said players should consider a cut last week] should put them in a corner without looking.

“They’re not self-employed, they make massive contributions to the Treasury and they’ve also, quite logically, felt that if they don’t get that money, if a third is deferred or a third is cut, then the Treasury is £200 million a year worse off, and that could be going towards the national health and will be needed.”

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also defended players, saying that they were an “easy target.”

He told Sky Sports News: “It’s unfair to call on any individual or footballers as a group, because I already know players do a great amount of work in the community, and players are doing a lot to help in this situation.”

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