London (AFP) – Southampton on Thursday became the first Premier League club to announce their players will defer several months of their salaries during the coronavirus pandemic.
The club’s directors as well as manager Ralph Hasenhuttl and his staff will also adopt the measure until June.
The Premier League has called on players to take a 30-percent pay cut across all clubs but the players’ union has argued that that would have a negative impact on tax contributions to Britain’s health service.
Players have launched their own initiative to contribute funds to the health service on a voluntary basis.
Southampton said that in addition to the players deferring wages for April, May and June, the club will also not use the government’s furlough scheme during that time.
In a statement, it said all club staff not deferring their salaries will «continue to receive 100% of their pay».
Southampton, who were seven points above the relegation places when the season was suspended, said the players’ wage deferrals will «help protect the future of the club, the staff that work within it and the community we serve».
The decision of Premier League leaders Liverpool and last year’s beaten Champions League finalists Tottenham to furlough staff and use the government scheme was met with an angry response in Britain, although Liverpool quickly reversed their decision.
Newcastle, Bournemouth and Norwich, and many clubs lower down the English leagues have all said they will apply for the government funds.
More than 7,000 people have died in Britain during the pandemic and Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in intensive care.