Arsenal players have turned down a proposal from the club which would have seen them take a 12.5% pay cut for a year because of the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
In their last financial year Arsenal reported a loss of £27 million, and the club were concerned about the financial impact of failing to qualify for European football next season, with the side tenth in the Premier League when football was suspended, albeit with a game in hand on some of the sides above them.
Looking to trim the wage bill at a time when no income is being generated from on-field the club tried to incentivise the players to accept their proposal with a couple of performance-related rebates. They include a full refund if the club qualified for the Champions League next season or a reduction in the pay cut to 7.5% if Arsenal secures a spot in the Europa League instead.
However, the proposals were almost unanimously rejected by the players. They recognise that they will have to agree to some temporary reduction in wages, but are looking for guarantees from the club’s owners, including one that players who are subsequently sold will be entitled to a refund.
And one part of the proposal that they do not like is the underlying threat that, if the season does not finish, or the club does not receive its full share of money from broadcasters, then players will be asked for a further contribution.
Meanwhile, the players have been asked to donate a week’s wages to help pay the salaries of lower paid staff. Arsenal have promised to pay all match-day and non-match-day casual staff in full up until April 30th, at which point they will reconsider the matter.
Whilst it is inevitable that the players will be forced to agree to some form of wage cut, Arsenal fans will be asking questions about the club’s owners. Arsenal are owned by KSE Holdings, led by Stan Kroenke, one of the richest men in America, with Forbes magazine earlier this year estimating his fortune at US $10 billion.
Kroenke has put very little money into the club since buying it, but has been happy to take his dividend every year. Supporters may rightly ask what financial sacrifice he is willing to make at such a time to help the club.