WELL, that didn’t last long.
Forty-eight hours after declaring their intention to put their non-playing staff into furlough and Liverpool have been forced into a humiliating U-turn.
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Like a shame-faced player caught breaking social distancing rules, the champions-elect have issued a grovelling apology for coming to a “wrong conclusion”.
The American owners totally misjudged the mood of the most militant fans in football with their announcement on Saturday.
Four years ago they were forced to scrap plans to raise ticket prices to £77 by an Anfield walkout and only last summer they were defeated again when they tried to copyright the name of Liverpool.
But that was nothing compared to the backlash they got this week soon after announcing £42million annual profits.
Hopefully this unexpected change of heart will shame the other Premier League clubs using the Government’s coronavirus furlough scheme to pay their staff.
But don’t hold your breath.
It goes without saying that any football club’s lowest-paid staff should be at the front of the queue for their monthly salaries.
Once they have been taken care of, then you can divvy up the rest between footballers and managers.
No sensible person could object to such an arrangement and hopefully that will be the outcome when the players and their employers get around to rational discussions about the thorny subject of a pay cut.
One thing is for certain. This squabbling needs to end now.
There is nothing worse for football’s battered image than billionaire owners arguing with millionaire players while the rest of the nation looks on in disbelief.
For this is not a row about whether the players sacrifice some of their wages during this time of national crisis. It’s a row about where that money goes.
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The players want to donate it to financially-challenged colleagues and the NHS. The clubs want to keep it to cover their potential £1billion losses.
With strong leadership from the FA, the PFA, the Premier League and the chief executives, this could have been settled amicably as it has been done in Germany, Spain and Italy.
But there has been such an appalling lack of communication between clubs and players that both sides suspect each others’ motives and resentments have festered to the point of all-out war.
Saturday’s conference call between the top-flight teams, the 20 captains and the players’ union sounds like an utter shambles.
No wonder proposals for an across-the-board pay cut of 30 per cent were rejected out of hand.
Now it seems that the idea of a collective agreement has been abandoned in favour of negotiations on a club-by-club basis.
West Ham’s David Moyes is the third top-flight manager to sign up for a substantial wage reduction after Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe and Brighton’s Graham Potter.
Other bosses will now come under increasing pressure to follow suit, particularly those whose teams are languishing at the wrong end of the table.
But it is one thing for owners to lean on individual managers.
Applying pressure to a squad of 30 first-team footballers will not be so straightforward. Many players are rightly annoyed they are being held to blame for the actions of their employers.
They believe owners are trying to shame them into a pay cut by putting non-playing staff into furlough.
And, yes, it is a disgrace that Spurs, Newcastle, Bournemouth and Norwich are asking the taxpayer to pick up the tab for their most vulnerable employees.
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Yet while the likes of Manchester City, Crystal Palace, Arsenal and Brighton continue to pay their non-playing staff, the whisper is that at least three more Premier League teams are planning to take advantage of the Government’s furlough scheme.
It goes to show how dreadfully mismanaged the game has been in recent years. Football has been closed down for a month and we already have teams talking about going bankrupt.
Surely they should be in a position where they can sustain the postponement of two home games without the risk of going to the wall.
EFL chairman designate Rick Parry has called for clubs to use the crisis to “reset their business models” and it is clear that drastic changes are coming.
It cannot be right that top-flight teams pocket more than £100m per year in TV rights money yet still struggle to pay their wage bills.
Players and their representatives will argue that it is not their fault if clubs have agreed to their exorbitant pay packets.
But with no games being played and no money coming in, they have to accept their share of the financial responsibility here.
If this season is not completed and the TV companies demand their money back, football is hurtling towards a £1bn black hole.
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Even if the fixtures are played behind closed doors and broadcast live, £200m of gate money will be lost.
Someone has to pick up that tab and as players and managers are the only ones holding folding, it looks as though they will have to put their hands in their pockets.
The Premier League has made them rich beyond their wildest dreams. Now is the time to show some gratitude.