THE Professional Footballer’s Association have questioned whether public services could suffer if Premier League players accept a proposed 30 per cent pay cut.

Following Health Secretary Matt Hancock's comments that top-flight stars should “play their part” and accept a drop in salary while football is on hold during the coronavirus crisis, the players’ union have responded with a sharply-worded statement this evening.

A meeting was held this afternoon between the Premier League, PFA and captains of all 20 clubs but an agreement still looks some way from being reached.

The PFA say pay cut being suggested would save around £500million over a 12-month period but a loss of around £200m to the government – a move the union say would be counter-productive.

Another £125m has also been ear-marked as an advance for EFL and National League clubs who face a precarious financial future.

Wanderers have declined to comment on how hard they will be hit by the current pause on English football, but finance experts expect the advance offered by the EFL last month will run out in the next few weeks.

Although players, clubs and authorities remain committed to reaching an agreement, recent comments at government level have served to exacerbate a delicate issue.

The PFA statement read: “All Premier League players want to, and will, play their part in making significant financial contributions in these unprecedented times.

"All Premier League players fully appreciate their role and responsibilities in society during this current crisis. They care deeply for those who are suffering with loss, health and hardship at the moment.

"Discussions about how players can best financially contribute have been ongoing during the current crisis, and prior to yesterday’s announcement by the Premier League.

"The Premier League players want to take the lead and ensure their financial contributions will support:

  • Our clubs that we play for will obviously need our support, particularly if this crisis goes beyond June.
  • Non-playing staff at our Premier League clubs – guaranteeing they receive 100% of their wages.
  • EFL and non-league clubs, their staff and players.
  • The NHS - whose workers - many of whom are football fans - are doing so much for us all. They are the real heroes.

"We cannot stress enough that football is in this together. Solidarity and putting aside any self-interest is paramount.

"To re-cap what the Premier League proposed within the announcement yesterday

  • £20m to charitable causes.
  • Advancing £125m to the EFL and National League clubs.
  • A 12-month 30% salary cut/deferral in wages for Premier League players.

"£20m is welcome, but we believe it could be far bigger.

"The EFL money is an advance. Importantly, it will aid cashflow in the immediate, but football needs to find a way to increase funding to the EFL and non-league clubs in the long-term.

"Many clubs require an increase in funding just to survive. We believe in our football pyramid and again stress the need for solidarity between all clubs.

"Going forward, we are working together to find a solution which will be continually reviewed in order to assess the circumstance of the COVID-19 crisis.

"The players are mindful that as PAYE employees, the combined tax on their salaries is a significant contribution to funding essential public services - which are especially critical at this time. Taking a 30% salary deduction will cost the Exchequer substantial sums. This would be detrimental to our NHS and other government-funded services.

"The proposed 30% salary deduction over a 12-month period equates to over £500m in wage reductions and a loss in tax contributions of over £200m to the government. What effect does this loss of earning to the government mean for the NHS? Was this considered in the Premier League proposal and did the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock factor this in when asking players to take a salary cut?

"We welcomed the opportunity to discuss this with the Premier League today and we are happy to continue talks.

"It is our priority to finalise the precise details of our commitment as soon as possible. However, to achieve a collective position for all Premier League players - of which there are many different financial and contractual circumstances from club-to-club - will take a bit more time.

"The PFA Charity has also agreed to make a substantial contribution to a player-led initiative once the details are finalised.

"There should be no doubting the players and captains are committed to achieving this as soon as possible. They recognise their role in wider society and what they need to do, as a group, to help and support others."