FINALLY: Arsenal staff and players closing in on agreement over wage cuts
By James Whiffing
After a potentially pivotal intervention by Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta on Wednesday afternoon, Arsenal are one step closer to being the first Premier League club to implement wage cuts on their squad.
Currently, the majority of the club’s playing staff are prepared to accept pay cuts of up to 12.5% a month over the next year, spanning from April 2020 to March 2021. According to The Athletic, 13 players are in favour of the plan, whilst 14 remain opposed.
It was revealed earlier on Thursday that Mikel Arteta broke the deadlock between the club and players over proposed wage cuts. Following a series of unsuccessful attempts by the Arsenal hierarchy to impose cuts on the squad over the past week, the Spaniard directly addressed the group via a conference call in order to negotiate the situation with them.
Hector Bellerin (the Squad’s Professional Footballer’s Association Representative) led the debate with Arteta, supporting the wage cuts. It is reported that the Gunners boss expressed his displeasure and frustration at the situation and encouraged his squad to accept the terms laid out for them, although he also pledged his support to whatever decision they eventually reach.
It is believed that after the meeting between Arteta and his players, more players were inclined to accept the plans, although there has not been another vote on the situation since then, with there being no sign of collective agreement. It is also believed that a large proportion of the Arsenal players are only willing to consider a pay deferral of around 20%, while the financial implications of the coronavirus remain hypothetical, as well as assurances that any lost income would be repaid should a player be sold.
They were also looking for guarantees that the money would be used to protect the jobs of non-playing staff at the club. The players were also confused as to why a club as big as Arsenal were asking for players to reduce their monthly income, when a side such as Southampton had imposed wage deferrals.
'The Mail’ report that the Arsenal squad are also being offered a lucrative Champions League bonus plan to help convince them to agree to the wage cut. It is said that if Arsenal qualify for next season’s Champions League, then the players will receive their losses from the pay cut back, plus an additional £100,000 bonus. If the club achieve the near impossible feat of winning the 2021 Champions League, then the Arsenal squad will be offered a staggering £500,000 each, with £100,000 being offered to each player if they manage to win the Europa League instead.
The plan also states that if Arsenal qualify for the Champions League in the next two seasons, then they will get their money back from the wage cut, and if they qualify for the Europa League, then the original 12.5% pay cut would drop to 7.5%.
It's good to see that Mikel Arteta led by example and tried to convince his squad to take a pay cut for the greater good of Arsenal and the non-playing staff associated with the club. Hopefully, if the Arsenal squad agree to pay cuts, then it could have a domino effect on the rest of the Premier League and could push them on to do the same.
The Champions League bonus plan could also prove to be crucial, not just in swaying some players to agreeing to the wage cut plan, but also in motivating the players on to win the Europa League and/or qualify for the Champions League; something that has been a primary target for Arsenal for several years now.
Some people are also speculating that the wage cut could be an attempt to lower the huge wage bill that has been generated in recent years, instead of just to help the club get through the current global pandemic, with certain players arguably earning significantly more money than they should (based off of their performances).