LONDON: Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville believes the Premier League may force clubs who are looking to cut player wages during the coronavirus crisis to accept transfer embargoes. Clubs in England’s top-flight have requested players take up to a 30 percent pay hit in cuts and deferrals to help soften the estimated £1 billion ($1.2 billion) blow of potentially failing to complete the season.
A number of Premier League clubs, including Tottenham, have also been fiercely criticised for using public money to shore up the wages of non-playing staff before cutting the salaries of players. Liverpool quickly reversed their decision to use the UK government’s furlough scheme, which guarantees 80 percent of wages up to a maximum of £2,500 a month, after a backlash from supporters and the media last week.
Neville said Tottenham striker Harry Kane would be the “perfect” signing for his old club Manchester United, but dismissed speculation over the England captain’s future in the current climate. “The Premier League spent £1.4 billion last summer on transfers and the previous three summers they also spent over £1 billion. If you’re trying to get 30 percent pay cuts from existing players, you may have to put a transfer embargo in place,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“Transfers are things the fans love, and we love players moving around, but it does seem to me to be awry when we’ve got such a behind-the-scenes war going on with respect to players taking cuts, the clubs needing support, and then in the next breath you’ve got a £200 million transfer speculation going on.” Kane, who has been sidelined by a hamstring injury since New Year’s Day, opened the door to leaving Spurs last month.
“If I don’t feel we’re progressing as a team or going in the right direction, then I’m not someone to just stay there for the sake of it,” said Kane in an Instagram chat with former Spurs midfielder Jamie Redknapp. Neville and Redknapp believe that Tottenham’s conduct during the crisis will not have sat well with Kane.
“He’s a clever lad and he’s not somebody who would get caught out if he didn’t want to say something. The little opening of the door that he left in that Instagram piece with Jamie was probably something that had something in it,” added Neville. “In my mind, I think he would have been warning them and saying ‘just be careful because I’m watching you and it’s not something that we do’.”
Redknapp said the action taken by Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy to furlough staff on the same day it was revealed he was paid £7 million last season did not surprise him. “Kane would have been extremely disappointed with how Tottenham have acted but I have to be honest, having been around Tottenham and played for them, it didn’t surprise me how Levy acted in this,” said Redknapp.
“You learn a lot about someone in difficult times and he was one of the first to furlough staff. “There’s no doubt at all that Kane would have been disappointed with that, but I certainly wasn’t surprised.”
Meanwhile, Southampton’s players and senior staff wanted to protect the club and repay their community when they accepted wage deferrals and were not influenced by external pressure, vice-captain James Ward-Prowse has said. The club were the first in the Premier League to announce that players and coaching staff would defer part of their salaries for April, May and June to help weather the shutdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Premier League has been suspended indefinitely due to the outbreak, with the UK on lockdown to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. “It was never about doing it quickly or facing any pressure,” midfielder Ward-Prowse told the BBC https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/52274265. “It was about making sure we made the right decision for the people and the community and we definitely have done that.
“We wanted to make a good, mature, calculated decision on what was needed. It wasn’t done for a ‘well done, you’re the first club to do it’. It was done out of thinking ahead and thinking what is best for the club and the community.” With the Premier League at a standstill, footballers are facing pressure to accept wage cuts. The players union, however, questioned the league’s call for a 30% player wage reduction, saying it would reduce tax revenue for the National Health Service.
Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have both reversed decisions to furlough non-playing staff members after fierce criticism of the moves, while West Ham United followed Southampton by announcing wage deferrals for players. Southampton were 14th in the table when the league was suspended. – Reuters