COVID-19: Wayne Rooney hits back at criticism of footballers

England legend Wayne Rooney has hit back at the criticism of footballers in the pay cut debate, stating that he thinks players are in a ‘no-win’ situation.

Writing in his column for the Times newspaper, Rooney spoke at length of how he thinks that the players have been unfairly backed into a corner – echoing the comments made by Danny Rose yesterday.

This week, the Premier League have announced that players across the league will be asked to take a 30% wage cut. That follows pressure from the health minister, Matt Hancock, for players to do more.

The 34-year-old Derby County star said in his column that he thinks the announcement was used to add ‘extra pressure’ to the players.

“For the Premier League to just announce the proposal, as it has done, increases the pressure on players and in my opinion it is now a no-win situation.

“If players come out and say they can’t agree or are not willing to cut by 30%, even if the real reasons are that it will financially ruin some, it will be presented as ‘Rich Players Refuse Pay Cut’.

“It seemed strange to me because every other decision in this process has been kept behind closed doors, but this had to be announced publicly.

“Why? It feels as if it’s to shame the players – to force them into a corner where they have to pick up the bill for lost revenue.”

Earlier today, the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) released a statement saying that they believe the proposed wage cut will actually prove detrimental to the NHS rather than helpful.

They pointed out that the wage cuts will lead to a reduction in pay of over £500m and as such, the government will lose out on over £200m in tax payments from the players.

Rooney echoed these sentiments in his column, pointing out that players already lose a huge chunk of their pay to the taxman.

“Whatever way you look at it, we’re easy targets,” said Rooney. “What gets lost is that half our wages get taken by the taxman. Money that goes to the government, money that is helping the NHS.”

He also went on to speak of how there has been little to no criticism of “big stars from other sports who are able to avoid tax by living in places like Monaco.”

Rooney ended by saying that, if footballers are required to take significant pay cuts in order to allow the clubs to survive, then “football is in a far worse position than any of imagined.”

The Derby star suggests that. if players are to take pay cuts, then it should be done on a case-by-case basis – saying he would be fine with some players having to pay more than others.

“How the past few days have played out is a disgrace,” added England’s all-time leading goalscorer. I get that players are well paid and could give up money. But this should be getting done on a case-by-case basis.

“Clubs should be sitting down with each player and explaining what savings it needs to survive. Players would accept that. One player might say, ‘I can afford a 30%’; another might say, ‘I can only afford 5%’.

“Personally, I’d have no problem with some of us paying more. I don’t think that would cause any dressing room problems.”

What do you think, should all Premier League footballers be required to take a 30% pay cut? Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Kieran Harm
Kieran hails from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and holds a degree in Sports Journalism from the University of Brighton. He covers a range of sports, specialising in football and NFL. Kieran is a long-suffering member of the Toon Army as well as a very proud member of Broncos Country.

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