Gary Neville has faith that Premier League footballers will contribute to the coronavirus pandemic with a wage deferral.
It was announced on Friday that Premier League clubs will consult their players over a possible 30 per cent wage cut during the coronavirus pandemic.
On Thursday, health secretary Matt Hancock said in the UK government’s daily briefing that Premier League footballers should “play their part” by taking a pay cut, and Neville believes the spotlight is now on players.
“I have got great faith in football,” Neville said. “I do believe that 99 per cent of footballers originate from the streets of Berwick, Bootle, Bolton, Solihull, Dudley – they’re not from Hampstead and Knightsbridge – they’ve got good souls and are good people.
“They’ve just done well, they’re just lucky enough to be in the one per cent of people who dream of being a footballer and make it. I think if you asked those Premier League players do they want to contribute to the NHS, to the communities to the challenge the country is facing now, they’d say absolutely they do.”
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“The clubs themselves will need support in the coming weeks, particularly if this goes into June, July, August, September, with the revenue lost from season tickets, gates etc. There will need to be support, and it’s about compromise and collaboration.
“The players will have to consider that. If I was part of the players union, as I was for many years, I’d also want some sort of contribution to my club, because I think it is important that I contribute to my club and that they survive, but also to make sure there is a contribution to the wider community and the NHS from the pay I get.”
The statement was released on Friday amid efforts by a group of senior Premier League players to organise a crisis fund to support the NHS.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is understood to be heavily involved in the organisation of the fund, which could lead to millions of pounds worth on donations.
Neville says he would have preferred if the pressure had not been applied on the players and PFA publicly, and advised players to make a decision that they can look back on as being correct.
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“The players are in the spotlight with this. I’d have preferred there to be a collective statement with some sort of conclusion, before the pressure is applied publicly, which it has now been on players.
“The players need to take their time; there is no doubt they will want to make a contribution, and do the right thing, but there is one thing they’ve got to do, and that is to make sure the decision they make in 10 years’ time is the right one for themselves and their club, but also for the communities they serve, and the fans they support every single week.”
Neville also feels that the coronavirus crisis and its impact on football should prompt a rethink about the distribution of money in the game, particularly towards grassroots and the lower leagues.
“This is something that isn’t particularly easy in a time whereby obviously it’s difficult from a health perspective and economically for clubs, particularly in the lower leagues, and I do want to mention non-League, as it doesn’t get the support the Premier League and EFL gets.
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