Premier League football clubs have been told to cut their players’ salaries before seeking taxpayers’ cash to pay non-playing staff during the coronavirus crisis.
Spurs prompted anger on Tuesday when they announced they would be applying for a government scheme in order to use public funds to pay 80% of the wages of off-pitch employees. The government’s job retention furlough scheme pays employees unable to work due to the COVID-19 outbreak 80% of their monthly salary up to a maximum of £2,500.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy said he would “reduce the remuneration of all 550 non-playing directors and employees for April and May by 20% utilising, where appropriate, the government’s furlough scheme”.
The announcement was made on the same day it was revealed Mr Levy earned a £3m bonus last year, as part of his £7m earnings, for delivering the club’s new stadium.
The Spurs squad includes players includes Harry Kane, who is estimated to earn up to £200,000 per week, and France captain Hugo Lloris, who is estimated to earn more than £100,000 per week.
MP’sConservative MP Julian Knight, chair of the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said: “Furloughing staff is essential for smaller clubs but the big boys of the Premier League should be looking to come to a fair arrangement with their stars before they go cap in hand to the taxpayer.”
He also accused English football of operating in a “moral vacuum”.
Fellow Conservative MP Steve Brine, another member of the committee and a Spurs fan, called on clubs and players to “show moral responsibility” through the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Wealthy football clubs MUST NOT be allowed to take public funds to furlough staff while still paying players big bucks,” he said.
Labour’s David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham, said: “The public rightly expect highly paid footballers at top clubs to be asked to shoulder the burden of football clubs’ financial losses over the coming months, rather than those on modest salaries in cleaning, catering or security having to be supported by the taxpayer.
“I hope the reported meetings today between the Professional Footballers’ Association, the Premier League and the English Football League reflect this.”
London mayor Sadiq Khan told the BBC that highly-paid footballers “should be the first” to sacrifice their salary “rather than the person selling the programme or the person who does catering or the person who probably doesn’t get anywhere near the salary some of the Premier League footballers get”.
Spurs have been joined by Newcastle and Norwich City in utilising the Government subsidy while West Ham and others continue to pay their non-footballing staff in full out of their own pockets.