According to a recent report in The Athletic, Arsenal players are prepared to take a wage deferral: on the condition that any player who takes one and is sold this summer will be guaranteed to receive their money back in full.
The club is said to have asked their senior squad to donate a week’s wages to help cover salaries of lower-paid staff.
This would in turn protect all jobs at the club during this ongoing coronavirus pandemic, ensuring they don’t utilise the furlough scheme as other PL sides are.
What has been said?
At the start of April, the Guardian’s Nick Ames said: “Arsenal continue to monitor the situation regarding player and staff wages, while playing an active role in the Premier League’s discussions.
There has been no decision taken and the focus has been on ensuring casual employees are looked after. All will be paid as normal until 30 April with the situation reviewed thereafter.
Full-time employees were paid for the month on 27 March, as expected. For now there is little appetite to make redundancies.”
A report this afternoon by The Mirror’s John Cross said Mikel Arteta’s squad would ‘firmly reject proposals’ which saw them face a 12.5% pay cut – subject to change, based on performance-related incentives surrounding their European qualification.
The original five-point proposal was presented on a sliding scale built around whether Arsenal qualify for Europe next season.
Screenshots courtesy of the Mirror’s article, are as follows:
What was the response? What’s next?
The financial implications of Arsenal underachieving in such manner cannot be understated. They haven’t been out of European competition entirely since the 1995-96 season.
However, this plan was not well-received by squad members who are generally against the concept of performance-related cuts and want reassurance this is not just an excuse to cut a sizeable wage bill.
Naturally, many at the club believe the situation has been poorly handled; that this should have been a collaborative process with costs and implications broken down and explained to the players, and individual circumstances taken into account.
Instead though, players are open to deferring wages while donating a week’s wage if assured that 100% of jobs at the club are protected.
Although nothing has been formally agreed yet, manager Mikel Arteta is understood to have explained proceedings to the squad. Hector Bellerin was the squad’s main representative.
The club’s vice-chairman Josh Kroenke was unapologetic when describing the Gunners last summer:
“It’s no secret that we have a Champions League wage bill on a Europa League budget right now. That’s a fact and one that we’re figuring out how to face internally at the moment.”
Nearly nine months to the day that story was published and things haven’t improved, they were stagnating before this pandemic.
Most players are said to hold a clause within their existing contract worth up to 25% based on Champions League appearances.
Their poor displays before last month’s suspension meant it was likely they’d succumb to a fourth consecutive season out of Europe’s elite club competition.
Despite a 10-game unbeaten streak halted dramatically as Olympiacos stunned them at home on February 27, progressing into the Europa League last-16, Arsenal were eight points and five places off fourth-placed Chelsea in the PL.
Questions remain over the logistics of how this 19-20 campaign can resume and on a day where the coronavirus UK death toll has surpassed 10,000, it pales into insignificance.