Wayne Rooney
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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?”

Premier League rivalries: The Merseyside derby

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While the Merseyside derby has been dominated by one side of late, that has not detracted from the spectacle of the most historic matchup in English top flight history.

Uninterrupted in top flight play since 1962/63, the two sides are situated less than a mile apart, with the proximity feeding an already intense matchup.

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Despite the incredibly close geographic proximity, the derby is sometimes known as the “Friendly Derby” as there are often families with split allegiances. Still, the matchup has the most red cards in Premier League history with 21, including 17 of those in the especially heated timeframe between 1997 and 2008.

Unfortunately for Everton, the rivalry has become one-sided over the past decade, with the Toffees failing to win since October of 2010. Liverpool has won 11 of the 21 games, with the other 10 ending in a draw. That has somewhat deescalated the vicious nature of the matchup, especially since Liverpool has gone on to become one of the most formidable sides in Europe over the past few years while Everton continues to challenge for a top-half place in the league.

Still, the 228 all-time matches between the clubs continues to fuel one of the great matchups in the English domestic landscape, and sooner or later this rivalry will regain its venom to bring the bite back to this matchup.

Premier League to restart ‘when safe,’ will financially assist lower league clubs

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The Premier League issued a statement Friday morning confirming the league has suspended play indefinitely, returning to action “only…when it is safe and appropriate to do so.”

The statement comes in the wake of a meeting between Premier League leadership and all 20 clubs to discuss various points of interest during the coronavirus shutdown. A date for return has not yet been set, with the league saying amid a fluid situation, “the restart date is under constant review with all stakeholders, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic develops and we work together through this very challenging time.”

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“The Premier League is working closely with the whole of professional football in this country, as well as with the Government, public agencies and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the game achieves a collaborative solution. With this, there is a combined objective for all remaining domestic league and cup matches to be played, enabling us to maintain the integrity of each competition. However, any return to play will only be with the full support of Government and when medical guidance allows.”

The league also confirmed it will financially assist lower league clubs during the shutdown, committing $153 million towards that will “immediately deal with the impact of falling cash flow.”

“The League unanimously voted to advance funds…to the EFL and National League as it is aware of the severe difficulties clubs throughout the football pyramid are suffering at this time,” the statement read.

The Premier League also announced $24.5 million of aid would be sent to the National Health Service that would go “to support the NHS, communities, families and vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The League, clubs, players and managers express huge appreciation for the heroic efforts of NHS staff and all other key workers who are carrying out critical jobs in such difficult circumstances,” the statement read.

Finally, the Premier League announced it will enter into discussions with players about the possibility of “conditional reductions and deferrals amounting to 30 per cent of total annual remuneration.” The league announced it will meet tomorrow to discuss the matter further.

Brazil, Argentina league soccer players seek full pay amid coronavirus

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SAO PAULO — As soccer players around Europe accept pay cuts amid the coronavirus pandemic, some of their less-well-compensated South American counterparts are fighting for every penny.

In Brazil and Argentina, players aren’t budging during the league shutdown despite forced cuts to staffing and wages in other leagues around the continent.

Negotiations in Brazil between an association of clubs and the players’ union have failed to reach a deal on pay and early vacations. Team captains and executives are now trying to reach individual decisions, but those could end up in court.

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Brazil’s top clubs, fearing a loss of sponsors and rising debts, wanted to cut player salaries by 25% until the pandemic ends. But some players – including those who have been paid late in the past – have asked for the Brazilian soccer confederation to step in. So far it hasn’t, but the union did give some ground on the issue of vacations.

Former players, executives and coaches said they were inspired by the example set by Lionel Messi, who took a 70% cut in pay to help Barcelona keep its staffers during the pandemic. But the voices in Brazil sound more like that of Atlético Mineiro defender Guilherme Arana.

“I don’t think there is a reason (to cut). We are stopping because we need to,” the 22-year-old Arana told Fox Sports. “It is the world that is stopping.”

Atlético, however, said Sunday it will cut salaries by 25%, except for staff members on lower wages.

In Argentina, which has about 4,000 male and female professional soccer players, clubs have not cut salaries and the country’s national federation has not made any recommendations on the issue.

Players’ union leader Sérgio Marchi was, unsurprisingly, against any cuts. He insisted in a radio interview that “it is fundamental” to respect the salaries of soccer players because it would allow the league to resume “without any sort of conflict after this contingency is over.”

“Some (officials) are seeking excuses or mitigating factors for their bad management or to their flawed behavior at the time they are setting up a budget,” he said.

[ MORE: Serie A could return in late May ]

Players in Colombia asked for full pay, but clubs acted swiftly to start saving money.

Jaguares suspended the contracts of 13 members of its squad, Millionarios reduced wages without much debate and Santa Fé pitched fans against players on Twitter by asking them if salaries should be cut. The query ended with 62% of fans voting yes.

Colombian league organizers are also asking the government to broaden some economic policies to help clubs, including those that have suspended players’ contracts so they wouldn’t go bankrupt.

“We don’t want taxpayer money to deal with the financial difficulties during this mandatory stop,” Jorge Enrique Vélez, the head of the league, said in an interview with Radio Caracol. “We are asking for policies that the government has already set for tourism and aviation industries. We also had to stop 100%, and we have no revenues during this time.”

In Uruguay, some players are now claiming unemployment benefits after several clubs, including Montevideo powerhouse Peñarol, suspended their contracts. The country’s soccer association has also cut pay for staff, including 73-year-old national team coach Oscar Tabárez.

The biggest exception is in Peru, where Alianza Lima players openly suggested they should be paid less so the club can afford to keep all its workers. Goalkeeper Leao Butrón said the decision was “easy to make.”

“Yes, the offer actually came from us. We wanted to give the club a break,” Butrón said in a radio interview. “They told us that it is not necessary for now. But we don’t know when this will end. We are still willing. Beyond being an economic problem, it is a liquidity issue. A financial issue. We can give a hand if extreme measures are needed.”

Transfer news: James to Everton; Meunier to Man United

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The latest transfer news continues across the Premier League and here’s a look at some of the juiciest rumors.

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First up, Everton are said to be interested in signing James Rodriguez from Real Madrid. The Colombian star previously played for Carlo Ancelotti at Real and Bayern Munich, as he helped the former win the UEFA Champions League in 2015-16 and 2016-17 after arriving from Monaco following a sensational 2014 World Cup.

According to Marca, James is keen on a move to England and Real want to sell him this summer as he has just one year left on his contract. Per the report Ancelotti tried to sign James last summer when he was in charge at Napoli and although Arsenal and Wolves are also interested, Everton are the frontrunners.

James spent two seasons on loan at Bayern Munich before returning to Real for 2019-20 where he has been a bit-part player for Zinedine Zidane.

His quality on the ball is undoubted and at the age of 28 he is hitting his prime and Ancelotti certainly knows how to get the best out of James, who put up his best numbers at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2014-15 (17 goals in 46 games in all competitions) under the Italian coach.

Where would he slot in at Everton? Probably as the second striker or No. 10 which would mean stiff competition for Gylfi Sigurdsson who has become the chief creator for Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Everton’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri has not been shy in splashing the cash and Ancelotti has had a huge impact during his first few months in charge of the Toffees, strengthening his case to be given money to spend in the next transfer window to improve his young, raw squad.

Time to add the duo of Ancelotti-James to Mourinho-Matic, Redknapp-Defoe and Moyes-Fellaini manager-player partnerships.


Switching the focus from Merseyside to Manchester, another piece of transfer news has been reported that Man United are keen on signing Belgium international Thomas Meunier.

Meunier, 28, has yet to sign a new contract at Paris Saint-Germain and according to French outlet Le Foot, the Red Devils have joined AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund in ‘keeping a lookout’ on the right-sided player who becomes a free agent this summer.

An attacking right back, Meunier is just as comfortable playing as an out-and-out winger and his arrival would not only give them cover at right back for Aaron Wan-Bissaka but also give them an option at right wing. His experience with Belgium and PSG is undoubted and his quality passing and crossing from wide areas will surely provide Man United’s star attackers plenty of service. Meunier previously said his main aim is to stay at PSG, where he’s been since arriving from Club Brugge in 2016 as he’s won eight domestic trophies with the reigning French champions.

Meunier has also previously stated in the Belgian media that he is a fan of Man United, so perhaps that gives Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side the edge. He would fill a need and a free transfer would certainly be welcome after splashing out over $280 million to sign Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes and Wan-Bissaka over the last 12 months.