Sport

Arsenal players disappointed with job cuts but Gunners planning for long term

Arsenal were the only Premier League club to impose a pay cut – but they are still having to make redundancies.

Understandably, some of those players who took the 12.5 per cent pay cut for the next 12 months have been left bemused, upset and gutted by the club announcing 55 redundancies from its 590 employees.

Now, those players are getting a chunk of their money back – the cut drops to 7.5 per cent – for qualifying for the Europa League as agreed in the negotiations with the club.

That has not removed all of the anger and disappointment from players who know a lot of staff whose jobs are now at risk.

Some will feel it more than others, some have got a real conscience and affection for the club, the staff and to see the public backlash against job cuts will make it sting even more.

Arsenal have cut over 50 jobs

Arsenal are set to make renowned scout Francis Cagigao redundant plus scouts Peter Clark and Brian McDermott but the reality is that it is not so much about the names but the 55 families who will suffer.

Which does then beg the question: why was the pay cut needed if the job cuts would follow anyway?

But it is worth understanding that Arsenal were the only club to agree a pay cut with its players even though plenty more asked and were knocked back.

There is a genuine sense of pride about that within the club. It showed a togetherness and unity. Other clubs made deferrals and scrapped bonuses but Arsenal imposed a cut to try and ease the burden.

It stopped radical decisions having to be made at a critical time when no-one really knew the level of financial impact the coronavirus would have even on the biggest clubs.

Mirror Sport revealed in April that one top club was losing between £9m and £10m a week and would need a £100m loan. It is because the clubs were still having to pay huge wages – but suddenly had no money coming in.

Many of Arsenal’s players accepted a reduction in wages

Arsenal asked their players to take a pay cut when it was still not known just how much TV revenue they stood to lose, how it would affect the commercial contracts and sponsorships in the long term.

But the reality is that without those pay cuts, the financial crisis would be even deeper and yet still people are struggling to understand the true devastating cost for clubs.

We think of Premier League clubs as untouchable giants and yet they have the biggest wage bills, the biggest overheads and rely on the biggest gate receipts, TV revenues and sponsorship deals. They have lost all of their gate receipts and some TV cash.

Arsenal are sponsored by an airline and the bottom has fallen out of the airline industry so the cost is devastating.

So without those pay cuts, the situation would have been far worse. The players did their bit – as Matt Hancock asked – yet still it was not enough.

There was anger around at the time over Mesut Ozil not wanting to take a cut, preferring instead to spend his money how he wants on the various charitable donations that he chooses.

Mesut Ozil opted against taking a pay cut

That is surely admirable but now Ozil, on £350,000-a-week, is again at the centre of the storm for not wanting to take the pay cut while the others did and still the cuts come.

The club’s stance is that they need to make cuts – they are largely in commercial and administration – to streamline the business and make itself successful.

Arsenal are planning for the long term and the belief is that if they make job cuts now it will see them through whatever happens next even amid a second wave.

But to be successful, you need success on the pitch and good players. They are close to a deal on Willian on a three year deal, they want a new centre half and are optimistic that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will sign a new contract.

It is obvious that any business must invest to be successful but that does not help soften the devastating blow for those being made redundant and Arsenal know and appreciate that. They know they will get a lot of kick back on this announcement.

Making people redundant and then investing in new players and contracts will never, ever sit right.

It is no wonder that some players are upset but equally it would have been much worse had they not taken the pay cut.



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