West Ham are hopeful their players will accept a proposal to defer 30% of their wages after Southampton’s squad agreed to go without 10% of their pay for the next three months to ensure non-playing staff receive their salaries in full.
Brighton are in discussions with their squad over a wage cut with a view to returning the money if the season restarts in front of fans rather than behind closed doors, which would restore income to normal. Manchester City are understood to be in talks with their squad over wage deferrals.
Southampton became the first Premier League club to reach an agreement over reduced pay with their players, who came to the consensus that wage deferrals were the fairest solution after holding talks with the board about the financial disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The club said their manager, Ralph Hasenhüttl, senior coaching staff and board of directors would also defer some of their pay for the next three months.
It is understood Southampton’s chief executive, Martin Semmens, played a leading role in the talks, coordinating a plan between the players and the club’s owners, the Gao family and Katharina Liebherr.
The economic consequences of the suspension of English football were laid bare to the players and the agreement, believed to have the backing of the Professional Footballers’ Association, enables Southampton to commit to not furloughing staff until the end of June.
It represents a significant breakthrough in the pay dispute between top-flight players and owners since the postponement of the season. Although Premier League clubs could lose £1.137bn if the season is cancelled, they have found it difficult to convince players to lower their pay.
Attempts to reach an agreement over potential 30% reductions across the league reached a dead end last weekend, forcing clubs to go it alone. The PFA has stood in the way of sweeping cuts, arguing they would cause a £200m tax deficit and hurt the NHS.
However, players are keen to contribute to society – it was announced on Wednesday that Premier League captains had launched a charitable fund, #PlayersTogether, to help people involved in tackling the pandemic – and they have also wanted clubs to make clear why wage drops are necessary.
West Ham have explained their financial situation to the players, who are discussing whether to defer pay. The captain, Mark Noble, will play a big role in representing the squad.
West Ham’s manager, David Moyes, has taken a 30% pay cut and the club intend to raise at least £30m through a rights issue next month. The vice-chair, Karren Brady, has also taken a 30% pay cut to ensure that full-time and casual staff continue to be paid in full.
Brighton’s chief executive, Paul Barber, said the club’s financial situation had been set out to the players and he is hopeful they will assist by accepting a salary drop. “What we have said is if we can take a cut on wages to reduce the loss of matchday income, that would be a significant help to us,” he said. “If, on the other hand, at some stage in the future we recover that matchday income by playing those matches in front of a crowd, then we would simply return that money.”
Barber, the manager, Graham Potter, and the technical director, Dan Ashworth, have taken pay cuts. Barber said heating and lighting had been turned off at the training ground and stadium as a cost-cutting measure.
There are issues to resolve elsewhere. Bournemouth, Newcastle, Norwich and Tottenham have placed non-playing staff on furlough, and Crystal Palace are struggling to come to an agreement with their players about wage deferrals.
Wolves players and coaching staff have teamed up to make a six-figure donation to the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust. The players have donated separately to #PlayersTogether. Wolves and their owner, Fosun, have already donated 6,300 pieces of protective equipment to the city’s NHS and council.