Which Premier League footballers have taken pay cuts in coronavirus crisis?

Howe Maguire Gundogan GFX
Getty/Goal composite
Goal takes a look at what players in England's top division are doing to help the fight against Covid-19

As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the globe, pressure has grown on the more privileged pockets of society to contribute some of their riches towards the desperate efforts to quell the spread.

Unsurprisingly, the spotlight has fallen on elite-level footballers, who earn thousands - in some cases hundreds of thousands - each week, with calls emanating from various quarters for them to make donations to healthcare services or agree to pay cuts so that non-playing staff can continue being paid.

Some of the biggest stars have agreed to cost-cutting measures. Lionel Messi and Barcelona's players confirmed that they would take a 70 per cent pay cut in a move of solidarity with their colleagues at the club, while the likes of Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique have been to the fore in charity efforts.

Likewise, Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. at Juventus came to an agreement that will save the Italian club €90 million (£81m/$101m), while German giants Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen are going to share their wealth with other clubs in an effort to prevent job losses.

With prompt Covid-19 action being taken across European football, questions have since been levelled at Premier League clubs and figures, with UK health secretary Matt Hancock making a rather direct statement that they should "take a pay cut and play their part".

So, which Premier League stars have done so?

Which Premier League stars have taken a pay cut in Covid-19 crisis?

On April 3, a statement from the Premier League said its 20 clubs have agreed to discuss a 30% wage reduction or deferral for players. However, it remains to be seen if all clubs and players will sign up to such an initiative.

Manchester United were first out the blocks with a reported agreement to "forgo 30% of their wages for one month" with the money to be donated to local health facilities to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) has been forthright in its defence of members, arguing that, if clubs can afford to pay players and staff then they should continue to do so. However, the body conceded that players "will have to be flexible and share the financial burden" associated with the economic difficulties created by the pandemic.

Despite that, initiatives are being taken. Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe became the first Premier League manager to take a "significant, voluntary" pay cut in response to the crisis, while Brighton boss Graham Potter will forego his salary for the next three months, as will the club's chief executive and technical director.

England manager Gareth Southgate is also expected to take a wage cut - at the same 30% rate that has been signposted by the PFA and FA.

Graham Potter, Brighton

Some clubs, such as Tottenham, Norwich City and Newcastle United signed up to the UK government's furloughing scheme with respect to their non-playing staff, while continuing to pay the relatively massive salaries of their players. Five hundred-and-fifty non-playing staff at Tottenham, for example, are taking a 20% cut as part of the job retention plan.

That situation is not viewed kindly by many and Conservative Party MP Julian Knight claimed that clubs should be hit with a tax should it continue. Knight expressed "strong dismay" in a letter to Premier League CEO Richard Masters, arguing that the "two-tier system is morally wrong" and "deeply unfair".

Liverpool initially went down the same path as Tottenham et al, but the club was  slammed by a number of former Reds stars, including ex captain Jamie Carragher, who said that it was "poor" from the Merseyside club in light of their manager's comments.

Carragher said: "Jurgen Klopp showed compassion for all at the start of this pandemic, senior players heavily involved in Premier League players taking wage cuts. Then all that respect and goodwill is lost, poor this Liverpool."

The club subsequently performed an about-face on the matter, in a matter of days after the furloughing was announced.

Jurgen Klopp Liverpool

A number of high-profile former players hit out at the statement by health secretary Hancock, as well as comments made by other politicians aimed specifically at footballers. Gary Lineker argued that footballers were "an easy target" and that they should be given a chance to do their bit. 

"Football is always an easy target but where are the big businessmen, where are the CEOs of these enormous companies, what are they doing at the moment?" Lineker told  Sky News .

"Nobody ever seems to care about them, but footballers do an unbelievable amount of good in the community that never gets reported, [they] do lots of things to raise awareness during this dreadfully difficult time. So let's wait and see, and see what they do. I'll be the first to criticise them if they do nothing." 

Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville went further than Lineker in his reaction, declaring that Hancock had "a f*cking cheek" to call out footballers, considering the perceived shortcomings of the NHS on his watch.

Writing in his Sunday Times column at the beginning of April, Wayne Rooney branded the way in which the UK government minister thrust attention on footballers "a disgrace".

Wayne Rooney, Derby County

"I'm in a position where I could give something up. Not every footballer is in the same position. Yet suddenly the whole profession has been put on the spot with a demand for 30 per cent pay cuts across the board. Why are footballers suddenly the scapegoats?" pondered the former England captain.

Rooney added: "[Matt Hancock] was supposed to be giving the nation the latest on the biggest crisis we've faced in our lifetimes.

"Why was the pay of footballers even in his head? Was he desperate to divert attention from his government's handling of this pandemic?"

On-loan Newcastle United full-back Danny Rose was bemused by the singling out of footballers, claiming that discussions had already been ongoing among players. Rose, who is contracted to Tottenham, said: “It was just not needed for people who are not involved in football trying to tell footballers what to do with their money. I found that so bizarre.”

Interestingly, while there was no response in March from players in the Premier League, the players and staff of Championship promotion hopefuls Leeds United agreed to defer their wages in order to preserve the integrity of all jobs at the club.

What things have Premier League figures done to help?

While footballers and clubs are on the receiving end of flak for the delays when it comes to voluntary salary reductions to help their fellow non-playing colleagues, there have been some gestures of good will and charity.

Following pressure from the UK government, Premier League players launched the 'Players Together' initiative in April, which will see funds donated to NHS charities. Hundreds of players and ex-players posted the statement announcing 'Players Together' in a co-ordinated social media declaration.

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea was thanked by the Community of Madrid president Isabel Diaz Ayuso for making a reported donation of €300,000 towards the city's efforts. Across Manchester, City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has been involved in the arrangement of a shopping service for nursing staff in Heinsburg in Germany.

David de Gea Manchester United 2019-20

“In Manchester, I followed the news of the situation in Germany closely. I was struck with the pictures from the particularly badly affected district of Heinsberg," said Gundogan. "That is why I wanted to start a relief action exactly where the need is greatest."

The Germany international added: “We footballers, whether amateur or professional, must show this solidarity and together support those people who urgently need our help.”

Gundogan's coach at Man City, Pep Guardiola, also dipped into his pockets to help pay for €1m (£920,000/$1.1m) worth of medical supplies in Barcelona, while the two Manchester clubs came together to donate £100,000 to food banks in the city .

Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Manchester United's Daniel James were among a number of players in the Premier League to take part in Gareth Bale's #CombatCorona FIFA tournament, which aims to raise money for a number of charities during the crisis.

Another Chelsea star, Christian Pulisic, is among a number of U.S. national team players to make donations to Feeding America in an effort to help those who find themselves in a worsening financial situation as a result of the coronavirus.

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The Stamford Bridge club have made their hotel available to NHS workers , something that has also been done at hotels owned by former Manchester United stars Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs .

What is 'furloughing'?

Furloughing  (pronounced 'fur-lowing') is a process whereby employees are placed on a temporary leave of absence from their jobs. It has been described in this scenario as a 'job retention scheme'.

In the context of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, employees who are placed on furlough can claim 80% of their wages (up to £2,500 a month) from the government.