While we have all been lamenting the lack of sports over the past month due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the harsh reality is that the pandemic has really thrown a wrench into many, many gears in the sporting world, and we have started to see the trickle-down impact of the wide-spread postponement of matches. First came the furloughs by several big name clubs, which impacted the workers at the lowest levels of the clubs. Eventually, though, it was going to have to land at the feet of the players, those high-paid athletes who we pay big ticket prices to see play in those packed stadiums.
According to an exclusive article by David Ornstein, it appears that Arsenal’s players are close to agreeing to a wage cut that will allow the club to help cover the losses due to the Coronavirus to help protect the jobs of non-paying staff (note: the Athletic article is behind a paywall).
Arsenal find breakthrough in player negotiations over salary commitment to help cover potential financial losses related to #Covid_19 crisis. #AFC are now close to a majority agreement on wage cuts of up to 12.5% per month over the next year @TheAthleticUK https://t.co/FWd6s3kFSs— David Ornstein (@David_Ornstein) April 16, 2020
According to Ornstein, Mikel Arteta has reportedly convinced the players to take wage cuts “up to 12.5% a month over the next year, making them the first Premier League club to do so.” Arteta’s influence was instrumental in getting the players to agree to the deal. There are contingencies related to Champions League qualification and player sales, but the important fact is that it appears to be close to being put into effect starting with the April 2020 pay period through March 2021.
That Arteta was influential comes as no surprise. His positive rapport with players has been widely reported, and it appears that he has commanded the respect of the players and board alike. However, asking anyone, regardless of income, to accept a wage reduction is a difficult task, and while these players surely have a financial nest-egg that we could only dream of, money is still money.
The players are apparently not the only ones willing to make financial sacrifices. The article also reports that executives at the club are willing to take a pay cut, but it is uncertain if that was in the form of wage deferrals, a true pay cut, or bonus deferrals.
But let us not view this as a perfect proposal. The key wording in the report is “majority.” While no names were given, not every player has signed off on this idea. Should it be finalized, as is speculated, it will be intriguing to see how it is received by those players who opposed to the proposal.
According to Ornstein, this reported agreement comes only days after players voted 14 to 13 against a wage reduction. Some expressed concern that this was not merely an effort to help non-player staff or the club capitalizing on the pandemic to reduce player wages.
Regardless of the details, it is promising that Arsenal’s players and executives are willing to part with some of their wages to ensure that those involved in the club’s day-to-day operations are taken care of. We will update this story as the situation evolves.