PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor has said the union oppose a blanket wage deferral for players, fearing clubs will try to cash in on the coronavirus crisis.
Many EFL clubs are desperate to defer crippling wages amid a shutdown which is devastating their cash flow.
But Taylor told Sportsmail that, as things stand, the union want to know the precise financial position of a club before agreeing to any deferral, to prevent clubs from capitalising on the pandemic to save money.
PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor says the union oppose a blanket wage deferral for players
The 75-year-old said: ‘We don’t just want anyone taking advantage of this crisis to suit their own ends. A request for deferral of wages has to be realistic and meaningful and needs due diligence. Players have their own welfare to think about.’
Sportsmail is aware of at least three clubs who have asked players to take a cut in wages to help protect non-football jobs only to be told that they cannot agree without PFA consent. Birmingham City and Leeds United have gone ahead with deferrals anyway.
Taylor said: ‘Inevitably clubs are putting it to players — the captain or the PFA delegate. But we are encouraging players not to accept that. One group (accepting a deferral or cut) makes players at other clubs feel uncomfortable. We would rather do it with everyone, including us, involved.’
The PFA’s stance is that pay cuts, rather than deferrals, are not necessary because of the possibility that leagues will recommence. Taylor said: ‘There is no need to make a cut if the season is completed.’
Leeds and Birmingham are two Championship clubs that have gone ahead with deferrals
That position — which is expected to be challenged when Taylor meets the Premier League and EFL again on Wednesday for the latest meeting of football’s emergency task force — has been criticised by some club chiefs who feel the union has not grasped the reality facing clubs.
Walsall chairman Leigh Pomlett has called on the PFA to ‘step up’ in the face of the pandemic and do more than simply protect its members. ‘I think the EFL responded quickly and the Government have responded as well. I’d like to see more from the PFA, if I’m honest,’ he said.
Gillingham chief executive Paul Scally said: ‘If the PFA say players won’t take a pay cut then you will find most clubs in Leagues One and Two won’t be paying them. Then you will have 20 players at each club, 50 clubs, 1,000 players out of work and Gordon Taylor is not stupid. He will know that.’
Gillingham chief executive Paul Scally has faith that Taylor will help to resolve the situation
With some Championship sides already £5million down because of the crisis, many chief executives are desperate for concrete guidance from the EFL on what kind of wage deferrals or cuts they should make.
The combined size of the potential cash hole among League One and Two clubs created by the shutdown is estimated to be around £25m — all of which will need to be paid in the short term. Season tickets sales for the 2020-21 campaign have gone through the floor.
Many clubs feel deferring wages stores up a huge financial burden for the future, even if it solves their cash flow problems.
Some have indicated that they will have no option but to introduce pay cuts or deferrals within days unless the EFL provide guidance.
The image of footballers would be hugely enhanced if some make financial sacrifices before their club ask them to.
The EFL are determined to work collaboratively with the PFA to tackle this complex task
Cristiano Ronaldo and his Juventus team-mates took a four-month pay cut at the weekend to help the Serie A club balance their books. It also emerged on Monday that Barcelona’s players will take a 70 per cent pay cut and make additional contributions to ensure non-sporting staff receive full wages.
The EFL want to work collaboratively with the PFA, knowing that football requires its stakeholders to be united as the sport undertakes the fiendishly complex task of plugging a huge financial black hole.
A bail-out from the Premier League is expected eventually but the prospect of a wage cap is a real one for Leagues One and Two, as part of an attempt to convince the Government and banks to provide emergency loans to tide clubs over.
The EFL’s new financial working group began on Monday the process of asking clubs for financial data ahead of lobbying the Government for help.
Tranmere chief executive Mark Palios has called upon the clubs to work together with the PFA
Tranmere Rovers chief executive Mark Palios, a member of the financial working group and former corporate recovery partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: ‘Establishing an accurate picture of the size of the problem is always the starting point of any recovery exercise; determine how much time you have and then deal with the cash choke points.
‘The real key to exiting this crisis is that the clubs work together and so do the other stake-holders, especially the PFA.’
Taylor acknowledged that the task of assessing requests for deferral on a club-by-club basis would be complex for a union which does not have a substantial workforce. ‘We are not an international organisation,’ he said.
‘Clubs felt that March was OK to get through. The EFL clubs have brought forward a solidarity payment from the Premier League and there are also the Government furlough arrangements (by which 80 per cent of wages will be paid to employees on temporary leave, up to £2,500 a month). But we will look at April, possible deferrals and the local situation.’