Ghana's No. 1

Gary Neville rues football's failure to set example to the public for wage cut

Published on: 06 April 2020

Gary Neville has bemoaned football's failure to set an example to the wider public during the coronavirus crisis - and once again directed criticism at the Premier League's approach to potential wage cuts.

The Sky Sports pundit believes the influence that sport holds will have inspired people to respond positively to the escalating pandemic, and hit out at top flight chiefs after their recent string of questionable decisions.

The Premier League echoed the sentiment that players should take a pay cut of 30 per cent on Friday, originally leading to staunch criticism from Neville among others.

Many of the division's leading stars were believed to have been angered by the suggestion that they were unwilling to lend support during the current health emergency.

And Neville explained that players would have understood the situation, which has resulted in rising tensions from several parties.

'It's a complex issue,' Neville said during Sky Sports' livestream on Monday evening. 'I think for a start that we're talking about football being stopped now for three weeks, football should have dealt with a lot quicker.

'We said there was a huge opportunity for football to set the tone. It's such an important part in people's lives. It's such an important part of what England transports around the world, billions of people watch it. There was a really strong chance that if football set the tone then everybody else would follow and do the right things.

'What we saw at the back end of last week was the start of an unsavoury episode over the weekend. The Premier League caught the players by surprise, it put them on the back foot, asking them for a 12 month reduction in pay of 30 per cent without any pre-warning.

'The players, while maybe not the finance experts of this country, they understand and are sharp enough to understand that they've had the wool pulled over their eyes.'

And the former Manchester United full back also suggested that the Premier League should have approached the divisive issue with more sensitivity.

The statement released on Friday appeared to agree with Health Secretary Matt Hancock's wish to see footballers agree to cuts, despite a number of players having already agreed to curtail wages.

Neville added: 'The players want to contribute to the NHS, to the lower leagues, to the non-playing staff and ensure their money goes somewhere that is helpful. For the Premier League, if you want to bring people on a journey with you to try and take a wage cut, you've got to land that softly.

'I think trying to bully them by announcing it on a mid-afternoon on a Friday and then calling them into a meeting on the Saturday in front of their managers and owners, is probably not the best way to land a blow as hard as that would have been to the players.'

Fellow pundit Jamie Carragher also agreed with criticism that the league's response to the dilemma has been found wanting, and called for a swift end to the standoff.

However, the ex-stalwart also conceded that clubs should be allowed time to find solutions to individual cases.

He said: 'First of all this needs to be sorted in the next week or so. It wasn't done quickly enough at the start, but you can't expect players to do this so quickly.

'Everyone's in the same situation, and yes some clubs will look at their own finances and look after their own, but the main thing is that clubs, and certainly in the PL, make sure that nothing serious can happen financially.

'There are clubs that are going to be really hurt at the other side of this. Clubs need to get their own house in order. Every club in some way has got to come and make an agreement. Some clubs will need less money. And then we can get it going when the health situation is a lot better.'


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