The British government’s Culture Secretary, whose department has responsibility for sport, warned that the game should be “thinking very carefully about their next steps”, as the row over player wage cuts rumbles on.
The Premier League, the most lucrative football league in the world, has been suspended for a month and the clubs have asked players and managers to take a 30% cut in pay.
Writing in the Telegraph newspaper, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the stand-off between the PFA and the league on wage cuts was “deeply concerning, especially at a time when more clubs have announced they are furloughing many of their lowest paid staff.”
Premier League leaders Liverpool announced on Saturday that they would be using the government’s job retention scheme to pay for some non-playing staff, following similar decisions from Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United and Norwich City.
“Leaving the public purse to pick up the cost of furloughing low paid workers, whilst players earn millions and billionaire owners go untouched is something I know the public will rightly take a very dim view of,” wrote Dowden.
“At a time of national crisis, our national sport must play its part. I expect to see the football authorities judge the mood of the country and come together with an agreement urgently,” he added.
The players’ union, the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), has yet to agree to a cut and argued after a meeting with the Premier League on Saturday that reduced wages would lower tax revenue for the National Health Service.
The PFA’s chief executive Gordon Taylor said on Monday players want to know where their money is going, and suggested foreign footballers were keener to send their wages back to their home countries to aid the fight against the virus.
“We have so many foreign players who come to this country and they know what it says on the contract they will get, which has not always been the case with them at times in different areas of the world,” Taylor told Sky Sports News.
“A lot of them also want to help out with their own countries and their own families and looking after their families and friends, the same as the players here.
“So they want a choice if their money is being affected, where that money is going, rather than it being imposed.”