As clubs continue to navigate through uncharted territory, many fans are hoping their club will take a wholistic viewpoint to their solutions. These aspects include club staff, gameday staff, coaching staff, medical staff, as well as, players, board members, and the club as a whole. Few can predict how long this suspension of games will last, but many clubs will be preparing themselves for the worst as they look to mitigate losses through fair and just measures. A large aspect was always going to be player wages.
Today it was announced that Arsenal handed down the terms of a player wage cut. It was given to Hector Bellerin, Arsenal’s Professional Footballers’ Association representative, to pass along to players.
Break Down of the Proposal:
- A 12.5% pay cut for 12 months (April 2020 to March 2021) – players paid in final week of each month so to start this month
- If Arsenal qualify for the Champions League, the full amount is then refunded
- If Arsenal do not qualify for the Champions League, no money is returned back
- If Arsenal fail to qualify for the Champions League, but qualify for the Europa League the cut becomes 7.5%
- They will ask the players to find a “further solution” if the season does not finish and/or Arsenal does not get full money from broadcasters
Arsenal players are likely to reject these wage cuts, noting they are willing to discuss wage deferrals in order to assist the club in making sure that lower-wage staff is able to receive wages during this time. It is suggested that it was odd to discuss locked in wage cuts without knowing the amount lost from season results and Arsenal losing TV and broadcasting revenues.
David Ornstein, writer for the Athletic, tweeted, “[This proposal] Suggests it was more part of long-held desire to reduce wage bill”. He added in the thread, “No CL qual since 2016 has seen big hit for 3 years, likely 4. So further 1yr cut (12.5% if no Euro qual, 7.5% if EL qual) was always going to be rejected”.
My first thought was that this is a very early stage in negotiations, seems like it was something that was always going to be rejected, but that doesn’t mean things will turn ugly because the players haven’t agreed to everything the club suggested.
My second thought is that, if these wage cuts are a means for the club to lower its own wage bill because the club has not reached the Champions League, it will need to be extremely careful. While the players obviously play a large role in the product on the field, many could and have pointed out the flaws, fluctuations, and poor decisions made by upper members of Arsenals staff. Whether that is bringing in players, not getting deals done, change in ownership, the club may need reminding that just as the team’s successes are theirs so are its failures.
Finally, a thought from the fan perspective and a possible reminder. When the club moves players along, swaps, or sells them, it is easy for fans to applaud the club and chalk it up as a “part of business”. Similarly, when a player looks out for themselves and their own interests, fans are quick to label the decision as selfish, disloyal, and ungrateful. We are supporters of the club, we have affection for players, but “no player is bigger than the club”. It makes sense, but that doesn’t make it right. Negotiations like this don’t need to pit fans and their support of players or the club against one another.
Players looking out for their own interests are perfectly acceptable and holding the club to their agreed upon contracts until they reach a mutual agreement should be expected. Hearing player’s willingness to discuss deferrals shows their desire to continue to support their fellow staff members and is a positive sign. We as fans do not need to take a negative viewpoint of early rejections or view these decisions as selfish.
It is early in the conversation, it is likely there will be wage cuts, we as fans should be in the middle ground urging club and players to remain civil and on the same side as we work through this period of time for the better, not worse.