Mesut Ozil among three Arsenal players to reject pay cut despite earning £350,000 a week

Former Germany international wants to wait and see how football’s financial crisis during the coronavirus lockdown plays out at Arsenal before deciding whether to follow the example set by his club teammates

Jack de Menezes
Sports News Correspondent
Tuesday 21 April 2020 13:10 BST
Coronavirus: How has sport been affected?

Mesut Ozil is among three Arsenal players who have rejected taking a pay cut after the club became the first to agree a 12.5 per cent wage reduction during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Independent understands that the former Germany international has joined two other players in failing to agree to the pay cut, despite the club announcing the move on Monday.

The reduction has been agreed “to help cover some of the financial risks” being posed by the outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen all games suspended since Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was diagnosed with coronavirus nearly six weeks ago. As part of the agreement, Arteta has also agreed to the salary reduction, having played a key role in negotiating the measure between club and players after something of a stand-off in recent weeks.

However, he could not get Ozil on board with the reduction, with the £350,000-a-week midfielder choosing to wait for more clarity over how the financial implications on clubs will play out before making a decision.

Ozil has not ruled out taking a pay cut in the future if the situation plays out in a way that the move becomes unavoidable, but though he has expressed his respect for the rest of the squad’s decision, he has asked them to do the same with his. The 31-year-old would still take home more than £306,000 per week before tax if he were to agree to the salary reduction.

Ozil’s agent Erkut Sogut refused to comment on the matter on Monday, but has previously spoken of his opposition to complete pay cuts among the playing squad.

“Deferral is an option but not to agree a cut today when the clubs may still make the same profit as last year,” Sogut said earlier this month.

“What the exact financial impact is on the clubs, we can see three to six months later - but we can’t see it today.”

Ozil is actively involved in donating to a number of charities himself, with the 92-cap Germany international memorably using his wedding with wife Amine to pay for 1,000 children to have life-changing surgery, as well as providing food for 100,000 homeless people at 16 refugee camps and shelters in Turkey and Syria. Ozil also used his 2014 World Cup winnings to fund surgery for 23 Brazilian children to have operations, at a cost of £240,000.

The agreement for reductions was struck after a fortnight of protracted negotiations between the first-team squad and the club’s hierarchy, with staff told on a call on Monday before the official announcement.

The Gunners confirmed last week that they are not planning to utilise the government’s furlough scheme and outlined their intention to pay staff in full during this uncertain period, while extending casual employees’ wages until the end of May.

In a statement, the club said: “We are pleased to announce that we have reached a voluntary agreement with our first-team players, head coach and core coaching staff to help support the club at this critical time.

“The move follows positive and constructive discussions. In these conversations there has been a clear appreciation of the gravity of the current situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and a strong desire for players and staff to show their backing for the Arsenal family.

“Reductions of total annual earnings by 12.5 per cent will come into effect this month, with the contractual paperwork being completed in the coming days. If we meet specific targets in the seasons ahead, primarily linked to success on the pitch, the club will repay agreed amounts. We will be able to make those repayments as hitting these targets, which the players can directly influence, will mean our financial position will be stronger.

Ozil is not completely against the pay cut but will wait to see the full extend of the crisis (Getty)

“The agreement is based on the assumption we will finish the season 2019/20 and receive the full broadcasting revenues. The resulting savings will help cover some of the financial risks we have this season in relation to our matchday and commercial income.”

The club’s executive team have voluntarily waived more than a third of their earnings over the next year to cope with what they called “one of the most challenging periods in our near 134-year history.”

Owners Kroenke Sports & Entertainment have already indicated they “are fully committed to supporting Arsenal through”.

Arsenal’s annual wage bill is in the region of £230m, but although that will now be significantly reduced, there are still fears that the club will need a significant cash injection from Kroenke in order to avoid major financial issue in the coming years - something the the American billionaire has not been keen to do during his tenure as majority shareholder.

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