Matt Hancock tells Premier League stars to 'take a pay cut' as non-playing staff lose out in coronavirus crisis
Matt Hancock said Premier League players should take a pay cut
High-earning Premier League stars should "take a pay cut" while football is put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic and other club staff make a "sacrifice", the Health Secretary has declared.
Matt Hancock hit out as big-name teams put non-playing staff on furlough while their stars remain on full salaries.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is already being urged to impose a ”windfall tax” on top-flight clubs who refuse to slash the wages of their top-earners, in a move the chair of the culture select committee Julian Knight has branded a “two-tier system” between players and club employees.
Speaking at the Government's daily press conference on the Covid-19 outbreak, Mr Hancock said: "I think that everybody needs to play their part in this national effort, and that includes Premier League footballers too.
"Given the sacrifices that many people are making, including some of my colleagues in the NHS, who have made the ultimate sacrifice of going into work and have caught the disease and have sadly died, I think the first thing that Premier League footballers can do is make a contribution - take a pay cut and play their part."
The Premier league is currently suspended amid the globa pandemic until at least 30 April with players told to self-isolate.
Mr Hancock's comments come after Mr Knight lashed out at what he called an "obscene situation where top players who aren’t working are continuing to see hundreds of thousands of pounds roll in each week while the staff who keep the clubs going are losing wages".
Tottenham Hotspur have already come under fire after announcing that 550 non-playing staff will take a 20% pay cut during the outbreak - but not its star players like England captain Harry Kane, who is paid £200,000 a week.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who was paid £7million last year, said "people need to wake up to the enormity" of the coronavirus pandemic.
But Mr Knight said the decision "exposes the crazy economics in English football and the moral vacuum at its centre".
He said: “It sticks in the throat that clubs are continuing to pay their stars hundreds of thousands a week while furloughing staff on a few hundred pounds a week."
The committee chairman has called on the Treasury to consider "imposing a significant financial penalty on clubs to reimburse those hit hardest in the pocket".
Newcastle United were the first Premier League club to place their non-playing staff on temporary leave earlier this week, and instruct them to apply for the job retention scheme.
That is in contrast with top clubs on the continent, where players have taken wage cuts to protect their non-playing colleagues.
Barcelona’s team are taking a 70% salary cut, while Juventus players and manager Maurizio Sarri have agreed to freeze their pay for four months, and in Germany top sides Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have also agreed to redeuc pay.