LONDON: Arsenal’s players and coaching staff have agreed a 12.5% salary cut due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making the London-based club the first in the Premier League to announce such a measure.
Several Premier League clubs have furloughed employees since the new coronavirus outbreak while others, such as West Ham United and Southampton, have said their players have accepted wage deferrals.
League leaders Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Bournemouth reversed decisions to furlough non-playing staff following criticism.
“We are pleased to announce that we have reached a voluntary agreement with our first-team players, head coach and core coaching staff to help support the club at this critical time,” Arsenal said in a statement.
“Reductions of total annual earnings by 12.5% will come into effect this month, with the contractual paperwork being completed in the coming days.”
Arsenal added that “agreed amounts” would be repaid if specific targets primarily linked to success on the pitch were met in the seasons ahead.
The club said the agreement with players was based on the assumption of the 2019/20 season being completed and the club receiving its full share of broadcasting revenues.
“The resulting savings will help cover some of the financial risks we have this season in relation to our matchday and commercial income,” the club added.
Arsenal were ninth in the league table, eight points adrift of fourth place which guarantees qualification to the lucrative Champions League, when football in England was suspended indefinitely last month due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Arsenal did reach the Europa League final last season, losing to Chelsea, helping the club generate an annual income of almost 400 million pounds ($500 million). But the the business did lose 32.2 million pounds.
When the Premier League eventually resumes, games are likely to be held without fans denying clubs millions of pounds in revenue.
The pay deals come after a series of negotiations over the last two weeks amid a backdrop of criticism for Premier League players over their failure to agree quick wage cuts.
The Premier League asked clubs to put a 30 percent pay cut to players, but the English Professional Footballers’ Association said that would affect tax contributions to the UK’s state-run National Health Service.
It was reported that Arsenal initially proposed a 12-month drop in salary for their players.
After a muted response to their request, Arsenal were able to secure the agreement thanks to Arteta’s influence, according to reports.
Arteta, who has recovered after contracting the virus in March, spoke to his 27-man squad in a video call on Wednesday.
He is said to have made it clear that he would not engage them in discussions about money normally, but in this case he wanted them to take a strong collective stance in supporting Arsenal through the unprecedented financial mayhem caused by the pandemic.
Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2020