Manchester United players have all agreed to donate 30% of their wages to Manchester hospitals in their bid to support the NHS during this coronavirus crisis.
After the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, called out all footballers and claimed they should take a pay cut, United’s plans were announced, with Harry Maguire taking the squad’s plans to the club. Reports suggest the players “overwhelmingly agreed” that they should help fund local hospitals.
Several of our players had already been involved financially, such as David de Gea and Marcus Rashford, while others may have done the same and it may not have been publicised.
While we can likely all agree that wealthy footballers, who are still earning a fortune despite not having to work at the moment, should do their bit, it was unfair of Hancock to call them out the way he did, while not imploring the super rich to do the same. The wealthiest footballers have a net worth of millions, yet there are plenty of billionaires living in this country who Hancock didn’t put the same pressure on.
David and Simon Reuben, for example, who are worth £18.7bn and who regularly donate to the Conservative Party, didn’t get named and shamed, neither did fellow Conservative Party donor Sir James Dyson, worth £12.6bn. In fact, none of the long list of billionaires who back the Conservatives financially were criticised by Hancock, but Premier League footballers are an easy target and provide a powerful diversion anyway from the criticism that might be levelled at the government over the lack of testing, protective gear for NHS staff and ventilators.
In reality, if footballers took a pay cut, as Hancock urged, it would have a detrimental impact on the country, as they would then pay less tax and the wealthy club owners would be quids in.
Gary Neville took to Twitter to voice his frustration over what he believes in unfair criticism of footballers.
“I wish I was a player for ten more minutes,” he said. “The Premier League players are more than likely working on a proposal to help clubs, communities and the NHS. It takes longer than two weeks to put together. Matt Hancock calling them out when he can’t get tests in place for NHS staff is a f*****g cheek!”
I’m proud that our lads were the ones to lead the way on this and it’s perfectly reasonable that they should give up part of their salary for the greater good of the community. But we shouldn’t be too quick in pointing the finger at footballers when there are plenty of others who could be doing more to help.