Premier League clubs face backlash when FIFA urges action

LONDON: Premier league clubs face backlash after Liverpool tapped public funds during the coronavirus pandemic while FIFA on Monday urged players and clubs to agree on salary reductions.

Top-tier English clubs, among the world's richest, have come under intense scrutiny, and government ministers warn bosses and players to think carefully about their upcoming moves.

The highest-paid Premier league players such as Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea and the Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne They will command wages that will make your eyes water, reportedly about £ 20 million ($ 25 million, € 23 million) a year.

Even the average salary for a Premier league footballer is more than £3 million a year, according to the 2019 Global Sports Salaries Survey.

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European champions Liverpool, who recorded pre-tax profits of £42 million in February, announced their decision to furlough some non-playing staff on Saturday, becoming the fifth Premier league club to do so.

The controversial move comes with no sign of a deal between Premier league clubs and players' representatives on a pay cut.

Oliver Dowden, minister of culture and sports, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said that people had a right to expect football's leadership.

Clubs, players and owners should think very carefully about their next steps, he said.

Leaving the public purse to pay the low-paid workers' low cost, while the players win millions and the billionaire owners do not touch each other, is something that I know the public will take into account.

Former Liverpool stars Jamie Carragher and Stan Collymore strongly criticised the move by the Premier league leaders.

Under the scheme, the British government pays 80 percent of wages. Liverpool said they would increase the remaining 20 percent.

Liverpool fan group Spirit of Shankly initially supported the move, but later wrote to the club expressing concern over the backlash.

U.S.-owned Liverpool's opponents in last year's Champions League final, Tottenham, owned by billionaire Joe Lewis, have also opted for the licensing option, along with Newcastle, Norwich and Bournemouth .

Manchester City, funded by Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi, said they would not use the government's job retention scheme, and Manchester United reportedly will follow suit.

FIFA on Monday urged clubs and players to reach an agreement on reducing wages to protect clubs suffering financial damage, sources with the world soccer governing body said.

He also recommended that player contracts extend to the end of interrupted soccer seasons and that the transfer window not be opened until then.

The call from FIFA comes as Premier league clubs are locked in talks with players and their representatives about taking pay cuts.

The top English category lags behind other European leagues. In Spain, Barcelona and Atlético de Madrid players have agreed to pay cuts of 70 percent.

Many politicians have urged action from the Premier league and in a poll conducted by YouGov last week, 92 percent of respondents said they backed a pay cut.

But some leading players resent the political pressure. Former England captain Wayne Rooney has criticised the government and the Premier league for placing footballers in a "no-win" situation.

Rooney questioned the wisdom of the Premier league in preempting behind-the-scenes talks involving players with its own proposals for sweeping reductions.

In my opinion, now is a no win situation, he said in a newspaper column. Either way you look at it, we are easy targets.

With no collective agreement in sight, the BBC said on Monday that Premier league players were set to start negotiations on a club-by-club basis over proposed wage cuts.

Burnley manager Sean Dyche said footballers deserve more credit for the work they do to help good causes, efforts that he said are often poorly publicized.

I've seen footballers do a lot of good things, a lot of things financially, a lot of things with time, effort and attention, he told Talksport radio.

In the latest sign of the financial crisis as a result of the coronavirus, England manager Gareth Southgate and the top winners of the Football Association have agreed to cut wages by up to 30 percent.