Pressure continues to grow on Premier League players to reduce their pay after a call from parliament for a windfall tax on clubs who refuse to cut player wages while putting non-playing staff on furlough.
The Conservative chair of the influential DCMS select committee, Julian Knight, has said that the clubs using the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme should be subject to a government levy.
Knight has also sent a separate letter to the Premier League CEO, Richard Masters, in which he said that “this two-tier system [was] morally wrong, especially given the extremely high wages paid to players”.
The chair urged the chancellor to bring in sanctions against any Premier League who continued with the practice after 7 April. A windfall tax would allow the Treasury to recover a substantial proportion of the money paid out to players from the clubs, which could then be used to reimburse non-playing staff.
Knight had previously spoken of a “moral vacuum” in football after Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United, Norwich City and Bournemouth all announced they would be furloughing staff while continuing to pay players as before.
On Thursday, Knight went further, and called on government to intervene: “We are facing an obscene situation where top players who aren’t working are continuing to see hundreds of thousands of pounds roll in each week while the staff who keep the clubs going are losing wages,” he said.
“If the Premier League isn’t going to act to resolve this crisis then the government must step in by imposing a significant financial penalty on clubs to reimburse those hit hardest in the pocket.
“That’s why I have written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak today demanding that Premier League clubs do the right thing by Tuesday next week or face the consequences.”
Knight’s remarks were made at the same time as Premier League officials, alongside those from the EFL and representatives of the player’s union, the PFA, went into their a second day of talks. The topic of discussion is how to keep football clubs solvent during the coronavirus crisis, when live sport has been completely wiped from the national landscape.
On Wednesday, the Guardian reported that the Premier League had insisted to the PFA that players would have to share some of the game’s financial losses. The PFA, however, are believed to prefer that their clients see their wages deferred until competitions which are currently suspended can be completed.
After the meeting the participants issued a statement saying discussions had been “constructive” and were “set to continue in the next 48 hours”. The Premier League has a meeting with its clubs on Friday but with external pressure growing on all parties to reach some kind of resolution, the negotiations are increasingly under the spotlight.