Daniel Levy has called on Premier League managers and players to help English football deal with the financial problems caused by the coronavirus crisis by accepting lower pay after revealing that Tottenham Hotspur have reduced the wages of their 550 non-football staff by 20%, in some cases by placing them on furlough.
Tottenham’s chairman said his club’s operations had “effectively ceased” during football’s enforced shutdown and urged coaches and players to do their bit to protect jobs. Although there is an acceptance from some within the game that coaches and players at top-flight clubs will have to accept wage deferrals, an agreement on the issue has not been reached.
Clubs are determined to act collectively rather than unilaterally but Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, has said his union will block a blanket wage deferral for players.
Taylor suggested some owners could look to capitalise on the coronavirus pandemic by saving money on salaries, a view privately echoed by some agents, but clubs are worried about their income drying up.
Spurs are the second Premier League side to apply to the government’s coronavirus job protection scheme, which allows staff to claim 80% of their wages, to a maximum of £2,500 per month. Newcastle placed non-first-team staff on furlough on Monday.
One executive has told the Guardian that laying off people in non-playing departments would barely scratch the surface when so much is spent on paying players. The clubs, who are set to discuss pay again when the league holds its next video conference on Friday, are concerned about running into cashflow problems while games are suspended and they have made that clear to the PFA.
“We have seen some of the biggest clubs in the world such as Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus take steps to reduce their costs,” Levy said in a statement on Spurs’ website. “Yesterday, having already taken steps to reduce costs, we ourselves made the difficult decision – in order to protect jobs – to reduce the remuneration of all 550 non-playing directors and employees for April and May by 20% utilising, where appropriate, the government’s furlough scheme. We shall continue to review this position.
“We hope the current discussions between the Premier League, PFA and LMA will result in players and coaches doing their bit for the football eco system.”
Levy said the “crushing devastation” caused by coronavirus would affect industries across the world and pointed out that football would be no different, warning it will be difficult for clubs to spend heavily on transfers.
“When I read or hear stories about player transfers this summer like nothing has happened, people need to wake up to the enormity of what is happening around us,” he said. “With over 786,000 infected, nearly 38,000 deaths and large segments of the world in lockdown we need to realise that football cannot operate in a bubble.
“We may be the eighth largest club in the world by revenue according to the Deloitte survey but all that historical data is totally irrelevant as this virus has no boundaries.
“The club’s operations have effectively ceased, some of our fans will have lost their jobs and most will be worried about their future. Our sponsors will be concerned about their businesses and our media partners have no certainty when we may play games again or whether we will be allowed to play in front of our fans. In the meantime, the club has an annual cost base running into hundreds of millions of pounds.”