Professional Footballer’s Association

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Premier League players launch fund to help medical workers

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Premier League players are pitching into a new fund to help combat coronavirus in England.

While the much-discussed and controversial topic has been pay cuts for players, the players are making a statement of generosity in the interim.

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“A huge number of players from all Premier League clubs” have agreed to contribute money to help those on the National Health Service’s many charity groups, aiming to “help the frontline” in the fight against coronavirus.

Premier League captains Jordan Henderson of Liverpool and Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur were among a host of players to share the statement on Twitter:

“The contributions that this initiative will generate will help NHSCT quickly grant fund to the front line to support in a number of ways, including to help enhance the well-being of NHS staff, volunteers and patients impacted by COVID-19 as well as helping them in their work supporting many other critical areas of need both now and in the longer term.

NHS charities director Ellie Orton calls it a “fantastic” initiative that will raise “vital funds” for the country.

Rooney pens op-ed on pay cut controversy, calls it a ‘disgrace’

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There a few more resonant voices amongst active English players than Derby County captain Wayne Rooney.

A legend from his time with England and Manchester United, the Everton product carries a weight to which most players can only aspire.

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Now the 34-year-old is lending his voice to the current controversy regarding players taking pay cuts during the coronavirus pandemic, with the government even making statements regarding the perceived necessity of sacrifice.

The Professional Footballers Association has weighed in a few times. Now, Rooney wrote a column that appeared in The Times (subscription required) on Sunday, in which he made several points on the issue.

“The first thing to say is that if Derby County needed me to take a pay cut to save the club I would understand and look to support them in whatever way I could. And if the government approached me to help support nurses financially or buy ventilators I’d be proud to do so — as long as I knew where the money was going.”

But Rooney says the story is more than simply foregoing wages in order to keep non-playing staff on the books or from going on furlough.

He says the government has made the players “easy targets” and asks why this process needs to play out in the public eye, saying that the players have been in the process of figuring out the best way to contribute via wages.

Rooney also says that Health Secretary Matt Hancock is trying to use Premier League players as a distraction to the English government’s actions during the pandemic. From Sky Sports:

“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?

“How the past few days have played out is a disgrace. He (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?”

PFA explains position as players urged to take pay cuts

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The Professional Footballers Association is explaining why it has not yet accepted deferred pay cuts during the coronavirus suspension, and the English government is not withholding its opinion.

As non-playing staff accept furloughs or worse across the tiers of English football and players in other European nations accept pay cuts, the PFA has not found an arrangement to its liking.

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Health secretary Matthew Hancock addressed the situation in his daily public briefing.

From Sky Sports:

“Given the sacrifices people are making, including some of my colleagues in the NHS, who have made the ultimate sacrifice and gone into work and caught the disease and have sadly died, I think the first thing Premier League footballers can do is make a contribution; take a pay cut and play their part.”

That’s a heavy statement, one that surely resonates with all.

The PFA issued a post on its site that runs up nearly 1000 words on its position, stating that a big part of its concern is representing League One and League Two players. Those members do not receive the massive pay packets of PL stars.

Basically, what the PFA is requesting is time to make an educated decision considering the books and futures of every club are different. They’d like to see those books to make sure that if players are making a sacrifice that shareholders are as well.

From ThePFA.com:

We fully accept that players will have to be flexible and share the financial burden of the COVID-19 outbreak in order to secure the long-term future of their own club and indeed the wider game. Our advice going out to players at this point reflects that expectation.

In addition, the PFA is also expecting to contribute financially to any solutions agreed upon.

Like everyone else in the country, we are trying to deal with a situation that has never been faced. Our spirits have been lifted seeing communities come together to support each other. We have been proud to see many of our own members and clubs step up to support the NHS, to help children who would usually benefit from free school meals, donating to food banks and other charitable donations to those affected by this crisis. Much of this has been done privately and without publicity.

Obviously there will be a resolution to this soon, but it’s a complex and layered situation. Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe became the first PL boss to take a voluntary pay cut on Wednesday, with Brighton’s Graham Potter following suit.

Premier League issues update as talks continue

Premier League statement
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The Premier League joined three other influential and power bodies to issue a statement regarding a Wednesday meeting on the future of the 2019/20 season.

The statement says that the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), the Premier League, the English Football League, and the League Managers Association (LMA) met and “shared a constructive meeting regarding the challenges facing the game as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Here’s the meat of the statement, which says the groups will continue to meet over the next 48 hours to discuss vital topics to the soccer world:

The meeting reiterated that the overriding priority is the health and wellbeing of the nation – including that of players, coaches, managers, club staff and supporters – and everyone agreed football must only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

No decisions were taken today, with discussions set to continue in the next 48 hours with a focus on several high-profile matters, including player wages and the resumption of the 2019/20 season.

To be a fly on the wall! There are so many considerations here, let alone the serious health concerns of players, coaches, staffers, and more. Stay tuned.

Earlier Wednesday, UEFA formally postponed all events in June.

200-plus players call for resignation of players’ union leader

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Citing a need for greater support of former players, more than 200 high-profile players have reportedly signed a petition calling for the resignation of Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), and a democratic vote to name his replacement.

[ MORE: Southgate: “Hungry” Harry Kane “the best goalscorer in the world ]

Taylor, who was paid a $3-million salary in 2017, has been in charge of England and Wales’ players’ union for 37 years, but has drawn a great deal of criticism in recent years. Many players are said to believe that Gordon, and the union as a whole, have not been acting in the best interest of current and former players. This is due, in large part, to the PFA receiving more than $34 million from the Premier League’s various television deals, and currently boasting a financial reserve of more than $56 million.

The Guardian claims to have obtained, and has shared parts of, a copy of the petition:

“You may have seen that Ben Purkiss (PFA chairman) has called for an independent review of the PFA. We are backing his call and would like to also call for a fair and democratic election of a new PFA chief executive. Throughout our careers we have never had a vote and this has to change. The PFA needs to be open and accessible to all. Every player should know when and how to vote, and the PFA must be run by people willing to be open, transparent and democratic. We call for Gordon Taylor to step down and allow the PFA to modernize and evolve.”

The goal of a union is not to make and keep money, the players are arguing, but to use its assets to support its members in a time of need. Whether a former player struggles with physical ailments, Alzheimer’s, mental health, the traumatic effects of sexual abuse, addiction or financial difficulties, the PFA should exhaust all of its options to support the players upon whose backs the union was built and has profited.