Premier League footballers have been thrust into the spotlight for not yet taking a pay cut amid the UK’s coronavirus crisis but Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney has hit back at Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Hancock called for England’s top-flight professional footballer to reduce their pay during Thursday’s daily press conference briefing.
“Given the sacrifices many people are making, the first thing Premier League footballers can do is make a contribution,” the Health Secretary said.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has since held a video call with his fellow Premier League skippers to discuss how they can help out.
It has been suggested the stars may take a 35 per cent pay cut so long as some of the money goes towards the NHS.
However, Rooney is furious with how the senior ranking government official has made footballers the “scapegoats”.
“But I’m not every player. I’m 34, I’ve had a long career and I’ve earned well. I’m in a place 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. First the health secretary, Matt Hancock, in his daily update on coronavirus, said that Premier League players should take a pay cut.
“He 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?”
Not every footballer is in the same situation and Rooney worries that those on lesser contracts would be severely impacted by a blanket-wide pay cut.
The Derby captain tells one worrying tale about a team-mate who may struggle if the decision filters down the leagues.
He added: “The Championship is different from the Premier League. We have one player who lives with his mum on a council estate — not that that matters — who I imagine has responsibility for paying the bills for his whole family.
“He’s a footballer but he’s facing the same circumstances as lots of people in our country today.
“He’s a youngster and hasn’t had time to build up any security to fall back on. A cut might be fine for me but what about him? Thirty per cent of £2,000-a-week would lose him £600 — and that could be what his family needs to live on.
“Remember, players’ careers are short so they have to make investments or have savings, with most facing retirement at 35 but — unlike a previous generation — unable to draw a pension until much later.”
Published at Sun, 05 Apr 2020 07:32:00 +0000