The Government has been asked to tax Premier League clubs who do not cut lucrative player wages but place non-playing staff members on furlough as they are taking advantage of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Julian Knight, chair of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling on a windfall tax to be applied to clubs who appear to be trying to cut costs by using the scheme to their advantage, despite lofty wage bills still being paid out in full to all squads.
Four clubs have so far put staff on furlough, with Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Norwich City and Bournemouth all cutting wages of non-playing staff since Sunak announced the measures last week.
But although the Premier League, English Football League and Professional Footballers’ Association are in ongoing talks about a universal pay cut, Knight believes a deadline of 7 April should be implemented to ensure clubs cut the salaries of those who they pay the most, given the main financial impacts are being felt by those less well-off.
“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,” Knight 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 also wrote to Premier League chief executive Richard Masters.
“The purpose of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is not to support the economics of Premier League clubs,” he wrote in the letter.
“Your organisation should be role modelling a responsible approach rather than tolerating divisive practices.
“European clubs, including Bayern Munich, Juventus and Barcelona, have shown that it is possible to reach an agreement with players whereby they agree to take pay reductions for a set period.
“I would like to request that the Premier League seek to broker an agreement between member clubs to change their approach.”
The PFA wrote to players this week to urge them not to accept pay cuts before speaking with the union, who have demanded to see all clubs’ financial details across the Premier League and EFL before any universal cuts are agreed, a move which has triggered a large backlash to the perceived greed of those who are in a financially strong position for the months ahead.
“As part of the stakeholders’ meeting last Friday, the PFA requested to see each club’s financial situation before we offer advice to players on whether to accept the terms offered,” the email read.
“This will help us to find the best solution for you, as well as the long-term future of your club.
“Before accepting or signing any paperwork from your club, it is vitally important that squads collectively discuss proposals with the PFA.
“We have already been working with multiple teams from all divisions and have created a standardised template that can be used when agreeing to temporary financial measures. This ensures that you are legally protected.”
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