THE Premier League call lasted for hours and many things were discussed — mainly how we respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Firstly, the wellbeing of everyone involved is our first and primary concern, and that will not change.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
We had all hoped the last time we met (over video conference) that the season would resume at the beginning of May.
But the pandemic is getting worse, not better, and we will only restart when it is safe to do so.
So the restart date simply cannot be confirmed at this time and instead is under constant review.
It is still our very firm intention to finish the 2019-20 season but until matters of safety for everyone involved are bottomed out, we cannot today name the day it will recommence.
As it stands the entire country is on a lockdown — in place until April 13 — and we are not sure if this will be extended, relaxed or beefed- up by the Government.
So we do not even know when players will be training again, let alone playing games.
It is a global pandemic and extremely serious. Without revenue and no games being played, how on earth do we ensure the ongoing business survives? Unless a pay cut is put in place a number of clubs will be ruined.
Implication of the integrity of the league and the financial implications for football were discussed at length.
Across the country all football clubs’ operations have effectively ceased.
There is no matchday revenue, no sale of season tickets for next season, no retail outlets open and online retail businesses have closed as it is not essential work.
With no date for restarting the league, this is having severe financial implications.
Bearing in mind the majority of the broadcast revenue goes to pay the players’ wages it is unthinkable that the PFA don’t seem to understand this.
They seem to suggest that the players taking a pay cut means the money somehow goes into the owners pockets which is totally ridiculous.
I applaud Andros Townsend’s tirade against people who make players out as “villains” just as I dislike the PFA claim that a pay cut settlement will “only serve the shareholders’ interests”.
The PFA may believe its responsibilities end with the players but they really don’t, they owe a great deal to the structure of professional football as well.
No one wants to be having pay cut discussions with anyone because no one wants to be in this position.
I believe players know the club has to do this to survive… players will be professional, sympathetic and serious about accepting these measures in unprecedented times.
It is a global pandemic and extremely serious. And without any revenue — and no games being played — how on earth do we ensure the ongoing business survives?
And, take it from me, unless a pay cut is put in place a number of clubs will be ruined.
So, we now enter into dialogue with the players about a 30 per cent reduction in wages, repaid if games go ahead in front of supporters and the broadcast contracts for 2019-20 are fulfilled in full.
I genuinely believe the players are realistic and know the club has to do this to survive.
I believe the players will be professional, sympathetic and serious about accepting these measures in these unprecedented times.
CORONAVIRUS CRISIS – BE IN THE KNOW
The Premier League are also doing their best to help other leagues.
Yesterday clubs announced £125million to offset lower-league debts. No doubt it will help.
It all depends on how deeply the virus bites.
We also made a donation of £20m to support the fantastic NHS, communities, families and vulnerable groups during the pandemic.
And at West Ham we continue to support our local communities.
We all want to work with our players to come to a mutual agreement to do something that works for the long-term good of the club, but also that is fair and reasonable. Our players are more than just our employees.
All the hopes, dreams and expectations of the supporters lay on their shoulders — and they want to get back playing the games as much as we all want to watch them.
This is not an easy time for anyone and we are not immune to the fact this will affect each of them differently.
I wish there was another way but, without income and matches, there really isn’t. I for one will take the same cut as they will, after all we are all in this together.
I hope everyone is remaining safe.