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October 2020
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I object to some of my tax payments being used to pay staff at Liverpool FC

By Tony Attwood

“Why should players take a pay cut?”

That’s an interesting question, but because that question begins with “why?” you can be sure that it doesn’t get much coverage in the media.   For the British media is notorious for ignoring the “why?” in any debate.

What they do is skate over issues, and pull on the emotions, in order to reach what might be a wholly false conclusion.  So, not for the first time Untold asks the question that many others are reluctant to ask.  And when we do ask “why?” there are two answers that come to the fore.

First, because some football clubs are running out of money, and so not paying staff will help the clubs survive.

Second, because most journalists are so stupid they won’t see the wool being pulled over their eyes and it will get the media off the club owner’s backs.

Neither of these answers seem particularly profound, nor indeed particularly moving.   However if the question was reformed as, “Why don’t players make significant donations to local health facilities in their area?” then we have a different thought.

Likewise when we ask why are clubs like Liverpool furloughing their lesser paid staff, as thus making the government (which in the end means taxpayers like me, and quite possibly like you) pay the staff, then we get another set of answers.

To be clear, I don’t want the tax that I hand over to the state each month to be used to finance Liverpool FC.  In fact I object to it strongly.  Of course the fact that Liverpool FC can do this is because of government incompetence in not taking into account the profitability of companies and wealth of their owners when rushing through the 80% payment legislation.  So it is not Liverpool’s fault.  But that is no excuse for Liverpool FC.  And indeed if Arsenal did it, it would be no excuse for Arsenal FC either.

By not paying their staff, Liverpool FC are depriving the country of funds both because the state now pays their employees and because the state does not collect tax and National Insurance contributions on these salaries.

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If Liverpool reduced the salaries of their players by 30% that would cut the tax and National Insurance payments to the state by what the Professional Players Association estimate would be £200m.   So the state, which at this moment needs every penny it can get, would get less cash.

If every club across the Premier League did this it would reduce the payment to the government by about £2 billion.  And for what?  Because of an emotional response to the crisis whipped up by the media.

But of course, as we have noted so often in the past, the media never likes the facts to get in the way of a good story, as when the Guardian states, “The Professional Footballers’ Association has invited further criticism of its response to the coronavirus crisis by claiming it would be detrimental to the NHS for Premier League footballers to take a pay cut of 30%.”

No, that is not true.  The criticism is whipped up by the media on wholly false lines.  A truthful rendition of that Guardian comment would be “The PFA has suggested all the staff at football clubs should be paid their full salaries in order to maintain tax payments being made to the government.  Meanwhile, players should be encouraged to make regular voluntary donations to relevant charitable causes that they support, which are supporting those who suffer from the virus.”

Instead the Guardian piece talks of “The union’s defiance in the face of a pandemic” which is nonsense.  There is no defiance.  There is a much more effective way of getting money to the NHS being proposed while reducing the drain on the public purse.   And either the journalists writing this anti-player stuff doesn’t get it, or they want to stir up trouble.

Basically the pressure should be on players and senior executives to make voluntary donations.  But I haven’t heard of any of the directors and owners making significant payments out of their own pockets.   Of course maybe Mr Kroenke and Mr Henry and Mr Levy and the rest of them are making huge contributions to the NHS at this moment and they haven’t told us.  That may be so.

And yes, the clubs are in real trouble because they generally have very little space financial capacity.  But that is their fault, no one else’s.  The broadcasters are demanding three quarters of a billion pounds in refunds if the season is not finished, and most of the clubs – even most of the Premier League clubs – don’t have the money to pay.  So we can see why the clubs would like to cut salaries: to stop their profits being slashed.

But the fact that some clubs in the PL don’t have sufficient reserves to see themselves through this crisis is again their fault.

Jordan Henderson has suggested there should be a coronavirus players’ fund which encourages players to donate directly to NHS workers.  But the media has swished that aside, refusing to give it much if any coverage in their desperate attempt not to ask “why?” and to attack football and footballers.

So why focus on Liverpool?  First, because they are so hyped up by the media as the symbol of all that is wonderful in football, and second because in 2017-18 they achieved a world record pre-tax profit for a football club of £125m.

Of course other PL clubs cutting the jobs of lesser paid staff should be attacked as well.  It is appalling and shows football in England at its lowest ebb and worst light.

7 comments to I object to some of my tax payments being used to pay staff at Liverpool FC

  • pity you don’t say anything about the billions paid in tax ana national insurance by footballers every year. add to that the billions paid by the clubs in tax on profits and vat.

  • I would have thought it was patently obvious that Liverpool FC pay tax and VAT each year, just as it is obvious that the players of Liverpool, like all other clubs, actually breath. If you require articles that state all the obvious things they are going to be incredibly long and exceptionally tedious.

  • porter

    Newcastle United’s Danny Rose delivers an amazing gesture to the NHS £190,000 .
    Just one of many I would think but not all of it leaks out.

  • How will channelling millions of pounds to the NHS make any real difference to dealing with the current crisis?

    Is the NHS complaining about the shortage of funds?

    The government wrote off last week all the deficits from the NhS trusts.

    The problem is shortage of equipment which quite obviously the NHS has the money for and if it does not the Government will give it to them.

    This money so ‘generously’ and so publically given will not be spent on higher wages for the nurses, will it?

    These gifts to the NHS are meaningless and worthless.

    The claim that the Government will lose the tax on their obscene salaries is disengenuous.

    The clubs are asking for the cut to save the clubs from going under. If that happens who will be asked to bail them out, if not the taxpayer. So the tax so generously given by the players will be used to bail out their employees.

    I am not concerned about the loss of tax. I am concerned that the players are taking money they are not earning whilst the fans are all losing mmoney because they cannot earn it.

    Charity begins at home and the players should show concern for the continued existence of their employers and show some solidarity with the fans who have given them so much.

  • mick shelley

    I am not in favour of a blanket wage reduction for premier league players and even less so on relying on any particular individuals generosity.
    There is no moral reason why footballers should be singled out for a wage cut from the numerous others in the entertainment business, commerce, banking, industry etc etc who are almost all getting exorbitant remuneration far in excess of their worth or contribution to society.
    In my humble opinion a wealth tax should be imposed immediately on higher earners, that is the only way to ensure the financial burden we are and will for some time be facing is shared fairly across the board. The gap between rich and poor in this country more than most has increased obscenely for years. Now is the time to do something about it and make those who can most afford it contribute fairly.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Solidarity is the key. I think people want to see the suffering spread out, or more charitably, they want to see that everyone is pulling together. Players understand this and are trying to balance their altruism with their self interest. But, they are unhappy with the way the media is portraying them right now.

    Until, Newcastle, Tottenham and Liverpool started laying people off the clubs seem to have escaped the notice of the media. That was a bit of an own goal. But the men behind the scenes have largely escaped scrutiny.

    If the club owners/directors were serious and they want to see the players take pay cuts so that the clubs don’t go under then they too must make a like gesture. They should agree to no profit taking for the next 5 years, and agree salary and benefit cuts at their level, too.

    In addition, since the issue, in their own words, is the survival of the clubs, then they should institutionalize a requirement for club financial reserves to protect against this happening again. When the second wave comes. As it stands, clubs can be, essentially, no more than flow through entities that can go bankrupt with little or no impact on the owners. Who cares about the emotions of the working class?

    The league should take the health of its clubs seriously. That was one of the avowed goals of that whole Financial Fair Play thingo, wasn’t it? It might avoid the risk taking of the type that lead Leeds to drop down.

    And, if they wish a player to take a salary cut from a career that could end at the next Ryan Shawcross tackle, perhaps making an across the board concession on the amount of matches a player is required to play each month/year would do the trick.

    There is no easy solution to this anymore than there is an easy solution to this present pandemic. One thing is clear, though. This mess, like the pandemic, will happen again. Blaming the players or their positions is like blaming the lack of nurses for the pandemic. Both are real issues at present but they were created by institutional attitudes over the last decades.

    When this clears up, and it shall, the stakeholders AND THAT DOES INCLUDE THE FANS, should get together and re-work the set up of this ancient game. The cost of inaction is literally incalculable, but I would suggest that the public, like a dog beaten repeatedly, might just bite back…or run away.

  • Stevo

    Does the fact that a football club is furloughing and taking the tax paid by the ordinary tax payer mean that the club must not carry on with their ‘work’ like all the companies who are doing the same thing. Perhaps all football clubs are excused the right to train, seems wrong to me.