Ben Williams tackles the question of the impact of furloughing and the Football world.
There’s been a lot of noise in the press of late about football players across Europe taking wage cuts. There has also been a lot of criticism about clubs furloughing non-playing staff yet still paying their multi-millionaire players, a scenario which is deemed outrageous to many.
It occurred to me that many of the Premier League clubs might be missing a trick here and so, in the same way, might the Government.
Despite constant criticism of foreign ownership, the truth is that these foreign investors pay huge amounts of tax and NI into the British economy. Undoubtedly some of this is channelled into our wonderful NHS. If those clubs cease paying their players, and in particular the hugely rich ones who the general public would say ‘can easily afford it’, then the Government (and in turn our precious NHS) are going without.
Take some basic examples (without revealing my ‘footballing allegiances’); let us suppose that the Premier League’s best Team and reigning champions, Manchester City*, pay their first 15 players a modest £100k a week each. Those sums represent £1.5million a week in wages, of which approximately £750k of PAYE and NI is generated. If they were simply to forego such wages then these are huge sums that the Government is missing out on.By way of a simple illustration, that sum is worth approximately 250,000 Covid-19 testing kits.
The ‘trick’ I think that is being missed is relatively simply is it not; Manchester City’s players could agree to defer some or all of their net wages. Taking the above example, the £100k per week wage would derive a net sum of around £55k per week. Now even the mega rich footballers have commitments and outgoings which might mean they could not ‘afford’ to defer the full amount, but in agreeing to such a course, the Government can still make use of the precious sums of tax and NI and the club could use the deferred net sums to pay the non-playing staff. Such staff would not then have to be furloughed so that the taxpayer picks up a potential £2500 per month per person (of course many staff will earn far less than this). Also, there will be tax and NI deductions on the non-playing staff wages continuing to go to the Government.
Now I realise I have simplified matters purely for illustrative purposes, I fully realise that there are teams further down the league(s) that do not have the luxury of a supposed bottomless pit of money as we, sorry – Manchester City has. But I get the genuine feeling that most players would wish to help in these difficult times. The players would be effectively loaning the club monies and these could be recouped at a later stage. Depending on the players’ contractual position, the club could pay these back by 31st March 2021 for example, or sooner.
This scenario would therefore amount to genuine help. The non-playing staff get paid;the players will eventually get paid; and the important sums of tax and NI still filter into the economy to be invested in the NHS that so desperately needs and deserves the same.
The Premier League could then look to temporarily halt the 5% transfer levy over the course of this summer and winter transfer windows or even agree to use such sums to assist those teams less financially fortunate than the likes of City and United.
So there is my two cents worth on the matter. Chambers would be happy to hear from anyone who has their own thoughts or queries about the same.
*Other football clubs may also apply here