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EPL clubs lobby players to take 30% pay hit

Premier League stars launch fund to 'help' health service virus fight
LONDON: Premier League clubs will ask players to take a combination of pay cuts and deferrals amounting to 30 percent of their annual salary due to the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the league said in a statement on Friday.

The English top flight’s highly-paid stars have come under increasing pressure to take pay cuts from government officials in recent days after four clubs said they would use public money to subsidise pay for non-playing staff.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said on Thursday footballers should “take a pay cut and play their part.”
Tottenham, Newcastle, Norwich and Bournemouth planned to use the UK government’s furlough scheme to pay 80 percent of wages of non-playing staff up to a maximum of £2,500 ($3,100) a month.

The average salary for a Premier League player is £3 million a year, according to the latest Global Sports Salaries survey.

“Premier League clubs unanimously agreed to consult their players regarding a combination of conditional reductions and deferrals amounting to 30 per cent of total annual remuneration,” the Premier League said in a statement.

The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) will meet with league and club officials to discuss the proposal on Saturday.

A meeting between the league’s 20 clubs also agreed to indefinitely extend the suspension of the season until it is “safe and appropriate” for football to return.

The clubs are desperate for the season to be finished if possible to avoid the potential of having to reimburse broadcasters a reported £760 million if they fail to fulfil fixtures for television contracts.

Furlough controversy

“There is a combined objective for all remaining domestic league and cup matches to be played, enabling us to maintain the integrity of each competition,” the statement added.

“However, any return to play will only be with the full support of Government and when medical guidance allows.”

Despite their own financial troubles, Premier League clubs agreed to provide a £125 million fund for the English Football League and National League to help those further down the football pyramid.

A £20 million charitable donation will also be provided to help those affected by coronavirus.

Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson has reportedly led a meeting of Premier League captains to arrange an extra charity fighting fund for the National Health Service (NHS) made up of player donations on top of any wage cuts or deferrals agreed with the PFA.

LONDON: Anthony Joshua’s world heavyweight title defence against mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev has been officially postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, promoters Matchroom Sport announced Friday.

The British champion was due to put his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO belts up for grabs against Bulgarian challenger Pulev at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on June 20.

But the global spread of COVID-19 has put paid to a bout on that date.
“Anthony Joshua’s defence of his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO heavyweight world titles against mandatory challenger KubratPulev scheduled to take place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday June 20 has been postponed,” said a Matchroom statement.

“A new date for the event promoted by Matchroom Boxing and 258 Management in association with Top Rank and Epic Sports Entertainment is currently being worked on.

“We will announce any updates in due course and continue to explore the possibility of hosting this fight at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.”

This is the second time Pulev has missed out on the chance to face Joshua after a shoulder injury forced him out of a world title bout in October 2017.

Fury preference

Earlier on Friday, Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, said his champion’s lone contest of 2020 might be with Tyson Fury in a world unification bout if the spread of COVID-19 means he only has time for one bout this year.

A clash with compatriot Fury, the WBC heavyweight champion would be one of the most eagerly anticipated contests in British boxing history.

Hearn, while open to the possibility of the Pulev fight being postponed until the end of July warned any further delay could see a change of plan.

RIO DE JANEIRO: Neymar has donated $1 million to fight the impact of the new coronavirus in his native Brazil, according to TV network SBT.

The Paris Saint-Germain star, the world’s third-highest-paid footballer, donated part of the money to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the rest to a charitable fund launched by his friend Luciano Huck, a Brazilian TV presenter, the report said.

The striker’s press office declined to comment, saying: “We never talk about donations or amounts.”
Neymar, 28, followed the example of PSG teammate KylianMbappe, who last month made what was described as a major donation — amount undisclosed — to a French charity helping fight the impact of COVID-19.

Huck, who has been touted as a possible candidate in Brazil’s 2022 presidential election, launched his fund to help poor Rio de Janeiro neighborhoods particularly vulnerable to coronavirus.

LONDON: Former world champion Amir Khan said Friday that he is eager to end his boxing career with a lucrative bout against ring great Manny Pacquiao or in an all-British contest with Kell Brook.

The 33-year-old Khan, who won his last bout with a fourth-round victory over Billy Dib in Saudi Arabia in July, had reportedly been considering retirement, but he is determined to go out with a flourish against high-class opposition.

“I have a couple of fights left in me — one or two at least,” said Khan, speaking to promoter Eddie Hearn via Instagram on Friday.”The biggest fights motivate me. When you’ve made so much money and won world titles, what’s going to motivate you?
“A Manny Pacquiao fight is huge, wherever it was, then you have Kell Brook, another massive fight in the UK.”

Khan won an Olympic silver medal at the age of just 17 and as a professional took two light-welterweight titles.

But apart from a 2016 bout with Canelo Alvarez, he has been unable to secure a fight against one of boxing’s current global stars such as Floyd Mayweather or Pacquiao.

But any thoughts about when he might next fight have been put on hold by the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to a state of lockdown in Britain, with boxing one of several major sports worldwide effectively suspended by the spread of COVID-19.

“I want to fight — we just don’t know how long the coronavirus is going to last,” added Khan.

Last week saw Khan offer his 60,000 square feet (5,600 square-metre) wedding venue in his home town of Bolton to Britain’s National Health Service amid concerns the surge in the number of coronavirus patients was leading to a shortage of hospital beds.

The donations come as high-paid footballers face pressure to forego some of their salaries amid the crisis, which has ground the sporting world to a halt and left some clubs struggling to pay their staff.

Neymar is riding out the pandemic at his luxury villa in Mangaratiba, a resort town outside Rio.

He faced criticism last week after he was photographed relaxing with a group of friends on a beach volleyball court, even as half the world’s population — including most of Brazil — is in confinement to slow the virus’ spread.

His press team said he was receiving no visitors and was in quarantine at a “completely isolated” residence with people who made the trip from France with him.

“If it starts kicking on beyond that, you get to a situation where if Joshua is only going to box once this year he’d like it to be against Tyson Fury,” Hearn told Sky Sports.

Fury is expected to complete his trilogy with Deontay Wilder later in 2020, having dethroned the American in February, but Hearn is hopeful some negotiations could be possible.

“The situation is a little bit out of our hands,” he said. “If Bob Arum and Al Haymon (Fury and Wilder’s promoters) can talk and make Deontay Wilder wait a little bit we would love to go into that fight next.

“We are contractually bound to face Pulev who is with Bob Arum and there is a deal to be done. A lot depends on Deontay Wilder.”

The PFA believes players should not be used as scapegoats for clubs who have chosen to furlough non-playing staff despite having the means to continue paying them 100 percent of their salary.

Tottenham’s decision to furlough 550 staff on Tuesday came on the same day it was revealed chairman Daniel Levy was paid £7 million last season.

“We are aware of the public sentiment that the players should pay non-playing staff’s salaries. However, our current position is that — as businesses — if clubs can afford to pay their players and staff, they should,” the PFA said in a statement.

Julian Knight, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, who had labelled the Premier League a “moral vacuum” for using government money believes no top-flight club should now be using the furlough scheme.

“My main concerns were, when I saw the Spurs and Newcastle stories, it sticks in the throat to have taxpayers in any way funding the economic model of the Premier League, which is not in the real world.

“That does stick in the throat, because we’re going to need that money for the NHS, and we’re going to need that money when we come out of this.”

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