‘I could give you a long list of people in jobs for life whose income is more’: PFA chief Gordon Taylor slams government for targeting footballers amid coronavirus pandemic
- Professional Footballers Association chief Gordon Taylor slammed government
- Taylor felt ministers had unfairly targeted footballers amid coronavirus crisis
- Pressure had been growing for players to take significant cut to their salaries
- Premier League players earlier announced #PlayersTogether initiative for NHS
Professional Footballers Association (PFA) chief executive Gordon Taylor has hit out at the government for targeting footballers amid the coronavirus pandemic that has shut down sport.
Health minister Matt Hancock last week called on footballers to take a pay cut to ensure non-playing staff retained their jobs and full pay.
Union chief Taylor felt the demand was unhelpful during talks between players and clubs that has resulted in the formation of the #PlayersTogether initiative which will see funds raised for the NHS.
PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor criticised the government’s handling of footballers
Taylor told beIN Sports’ Keys & Gray Show: ‘I find it quite extraordinary that government doesn’t realize – and it should do, because of what the game puts back into the economy, the money that football spends on its community initiatives, the tax it pays – and just to highlight footballers when there are many other sportsmen, bankers, hedge funds – I could give you a long list of people in jobs for life whose income is more.
‘Footballers have reached the top of a mountain that has took a long long time to climb – and they get what they deserve.
‘I don’t want certain clubs using this situation to take advantage of the players whose average career is eight years, where we can lose 50 players a year through permanent injury. It’s not as though football is a job for life, and if we can save their income, then we will do. If the situation does become worse [and the season is cancelled], then they will agree that they are part of a solution to overcome that.’
Health minister Matt Hancock had called on footballers to ‘play their part’ during the crisis
The PFA boss indicated his preference for players to be involved in all stages of discussions as the parties worked towards a viable solution to ensure the survival of all clubs in the pyramid.
Taylor said: ‘We want players to be around the table with their clubs, with their managers, with their chief execs, with their directors of finance, and to be fully in the picture and to agree between them – rather than be dictated to.
‘Premier League players felt that they were being put into a corner – particularly by government. They also saw the irony that even if they took a pay cut… that money would be lost to the government… and that would be counterproductive.
‘Players are prepared to play their part. They were concerned that they were being put into a corner to take cuts, when we’ve always worked on wage deferrals.
‘Players know that if they don’t have a club, there’s not going to be any wages for our players.
‘They felt concerned that there are a lot of other people in the world who do well, there are a lot of sports stars, self-employed people. Players are prepared to contribute and be part of the entire ethos of a club which is about working together. That’s why there was such a storm when it appeared that some of the non-playing staff were having their wages reduced when players knew the club was capable of not doing that.’
Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson led discussions on how to aid the war on coronavirus
Taylor also expressed hope that the rest of the 2019/20 season could be completed, but explained that all parties were aware and planning for the consequences should it be ended early.
Taylor added: ‘This is the 19-20 season – we have the rest of 2020 to deliver the season. These are special and unique times. I’m asking and hoping that everybody concerned with the game can have some hope for the future and be as flexible as possible to achieve that, bearing in mind that we need to overcome this virus.
‘We’ve managed to get football through two world wars… having survived that, the least we can do is to hang on to the idea that we can get through this season. It completes the integrity, we’ve got to be flexible – which means the flexibility of broadcasters as well, as we’re all in this together.
‘Let’s see if we can get playing again behind closed doors, which will of course affect gate receipts so they [the players] will take that into consideration. Let’s even wait to see if we can keep the season going. If [we can’t and] it’s cancelled, then of course they will know the amount that is lost to the clubs. And they will know that employers cannot pay money that they have not got. But we should look at it at that time, rather than discounting everything now.
‘Players are guided by government and medical experts. It’s about staying as calm as possible. If we have to play behind closed doors – it’s like a practice game – probably the best of a bad job. Nobody wants that to happen [behind closed doors] and that’s not the ideal objective… but if it needs to happen that way, then we’ll have to make sure it’s safe to do so. But it will be far and away the second option. Top option is playing again with crowds and atmosphere.’
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