Great Britain

NHS built a 4,000-bed hospital in less time than it’s taken Premier League stars to decide whether to help their clubs

“ASK not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Those were the words of John F Kennedy at his inauguration as US President in 1961 and it’s a mantra fitting for today.

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Premier League players now have an opportunity to fulfil that and kill off a brewing feud.

Football is in trouble. Whether it’s concerned in private or wringing its hands in public, the landscape is challenging right now.

Clubs currently have no revenue streams, no means of income and the Premier League are faced with broadcasters who will want back £762million (around £38m per club) if games aren’t played.

There’s also the losses of £5m-£10m per club in gate receipts, an average of £7m in season tickets set to be reclaimed and sponsorship refunds also running into millions.

The image of Premier League clubs is they are awash with cash and have billionaire owners in the background to shell out endless amount of money.

The truth is actually somewhat different. In the last set of accounts only eight clubs made a profit.

The Premier League had combined losses of £90m and clubs on average have only £24m in cash reserves, with wage bills of around £9m a month.

Yes, giants like Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool have more cash on hand, but without income our Premier League clubs are running out of money — and fast.

Player wages are the single biggest cost, accounting for 73 per cent of average turnover.

So, surely the solution is simple? Elite players will help by taking pay cuts, reducing the obligations on their stricken clubs and potentially helping other members of the so-called Football Family.

BATTLEFIELD

The players’ union, the PFA, will enable the solution by preserving the here, now and future — right? Wrong!

It’s turning into a battlefield. Apparently players have "only" had three weeks to consider this and, come on, that’s not a reasonable amount of time?

I mean what can you do in three weeks? I know, build a 4,000-bed hospital in East London, perhaps?

In an attempt to create leverage and heap embarrassment on the players, certain big clubs — namely Tottenham and initially Liverpool before their humiliating U-turn — took the step of pocketing the Government-funded furlough to pay non-playing staff. How did the PFA react?

Firstly they stayed mute while all other major European leagues agreed player pay cuts.

The PFA — led by Gordon Taylor, on the biggest salary in the smallest union — have instead decided to play a game of Russian roulette with players’ relationships with their own clubs and fans.

A few weeks ago the debate was centred on how can football save itself, especially clubs in the EFL screaming impending doom, the answer being the sport has to take a pay cut.

Somehow that’s morphed and mutated into how Premier League footballers can fund the NHS, with the argument focused on how much tax revenue would be lost if they take pay cuts.

Lest we forget the average £70,000-a-week top-flight footballer has a short career, but that’s a deflection.

Players apparently want to help but doing it willingly, rather than being dragged there kicking and screaming.

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The PFA is the players’ mouthpiece, as often agents are too in moments of trouble.

That is ironic given that 90 per cent of players couldn’t care less about the union and if they had to pay fees, wouldn’t actually be members.

Another thought is that billionaire owners should just pony up.

It is outrageous that big football clubs have taken those Government furloughs.

But if it’s good enough for McDonald’s, Wetherspoons, British Airways, Primark, Costa Coffee and Virgin — with their hundreds of thousands of employees in hugely profitable businesses — then why not for football?

Yes I know, football is different. Absolutely right. No other industry has ten per cent of its workforce account for 90 per cent of its wage bill and on fixed contracts.

But if clubs get the players to do the right thing morally, there will be no grounds for them to take government money.

This game that means so much to so many should mean as much to elite players who get so much benefit from it. And apparently if we ask them nicely they might consider helping!

A 30 per cent pay cut — which by the way isn’t actually 30 per cent, it’s 15 per cent of their net income — to preserve the wellbeing of English football is the least players can do.

Perhaps then they may just earn the titles so often easily thrown at them — legends and heroes.

*SIMON JORDAN’S Final Word is on talkSPORT on Sunday from 5-8pm.

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