It's a disgrace: Wayne Rooney slams British government, EPL

Updated: Apr 06, 2020, 08:26 IST | AFP | London

Former England captain slams British government and Premier League for proposing 30% pay cut to all players; says he can afford it but others may struggle

Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney

Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney has criticised the British government and the Premier League for placing footballers in a "no-win situation" over proposed pay cuts after a warning from players' representatives that National Health Service coffers could suffer.

The former England captain, now playing for Championship side Derby, penned an impassioned column in the Sunday Times saying his fellow professionals were "easy targets" in the wider response to the Coronavirus crisis. Rooney made it clear he had both the means and the will to make financial contributions, but felt the public pressure being exerted on players was unhelpful.

The Premier League's suggested strategy of a combination of pay cuts and deferrals amounting to 30 percent of wages, was discussed in a conference call with players' and managers' on Saturday. Rooney wrote: "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. I'm in a place where I could give something up. Not every footballer can. The whole profession has been put on the spot with a demand for 30 percent pay cuts. Why are footballers the scapegoats? How the past few days have played out is a disgrace."

The Premier League has been seen as lagging behind other European leagues in its response to coronavirus and was accused by one British lawmaker of operating in a "moral vacuum". But Rooney questioned the wisdom of the Premier League in pre-empting behind-the-scenes talks involving players with its own proposals for sweeping reductions. "It's a no-win situation. Whatever way you look at it, we're easy targets."

The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) said its members wanted to play their part but warned that a projected 30 percent salary reduction would cost the country 200 million pounds ($245 million) in lost tax receipts. "This would be detrimental to our NHS and other government-funded services," said a PFA statement. Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said, "Football must show it understands the pressures its lower-paid staff face."

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