Coronavirus hits sport: Chelsea announce no wage cuts during COVID-19 crisis

Chelsea's first-team players are not taking pay cuts or contributing towards the club financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the club said in a statement on Sunday (NZ time)

Following extensive talks, the players have instead been asked to continue "supporting other charitable causes" instead. 

British media had reported earlier that the club were in talks with players over the possibility of a 10 percent pay cut due to the crisis.

"At this time, the men's first team will not be contributing towards the club financially," Chelsea said.

"Instead the board have directed the team to focus their efforts on further supporting other charitable causes.

"As this crisis develops the club will continue to have conversations with the men's first team regarding financial contributions to the club's activities."

Chelsea added that they would not be using the UK government's job retention scheme during the crisis and would continue to pay staff in full.

"The club can confirm we will not be taking advantage of the government's current Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which runs to 30 June," the club said.

"We are not planning any general redundancies or furloughs for our full-time staff who are continuing to be paid 100 per cent of their current wages."

Liverpool, Tottenham and Bournemouth have all reversed initial decisions to furlough non-playing staff during the pandemic in the wake of criticism, while earlier on Saturday Norwich City defended their decision to furlough staff.

EPL clubs such as Southampton and West Ham United have announced wage deferrals for players since English soccer was suspended last month due to the outbreak, while Arsenal have announced a 12.5 per centcut for players and coaching staff.

Arsenal to re-open training to players

Arsenal will re-open their training ground to their players next week for individual training but the Premier League club will continue to observe social distancing rules amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Soccer in England was suspended indefinitely last month due to the virus and no clubs have been in training.

Coronavirus hits sport: Chelsea announce no wage cuts during COVID-19 crisis
Photo credit: Getty

"Players will be permitted access to the Colney grounds next week," Arsenal said in a statement.

"Access will be limited, carefully managed and social distancing will be maintained at all times. All Colney buildings remain closed.

"Players will travel alone, do their individual workout and return home," the club added.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus on March 12, which led to the Premier League postponing the next round of matches and none have been played since.

Arsenal spoke to all their players after Alexandre Lacazette, David Luiz, Nicolas Pepe and Granit Xhaka were pictured allegedly breaking social distancing guidelines.

Premier League clubs have been working on the basis that the earliest they may be allowed to resume training would be in early May.

The British government is expected to review current lockdown restrictions on May 7.

Should teams be allowed to train, it is expected they would need two to three weeks to get prepared to play competitive matches, making the earliest possible return in June.

But with the ban on mass public gatherings likely to be one of the last restrictions to be lifted, rescheduled games will almost certainly be held behind closed doors.

The Football League (EFL) which organises the three divisions below the Premier League, on Saturday highlighted testing of players and others involved in games as the key issue.

"Clearly, before any return to football can take place, suitable testing arrangements for participants must be in place and this is core to our current planning, as is ensuring there is absolutely no negative impact on the country's front-line workers, the Emergency services, League and Club staff members," the league said in a statement.


Aston Villa players, coaches make wage deferrals

Aston Villa's players and first-team coaches and senior management have agreed to defer 25 percent of their wages for four months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the English Premier League club announced on Saturday.

Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish.
Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish. Photo credit: Getty

Villa are the latest top-flight club to announce wage deferrals for players, following similar steps by Southampton, West Ham United, Watford and Sheffield United.

Football in England was suspended indefinitely last month due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

"First-team players, first-team coaches and senior management have all agreed to defer 25 percent of their salaries for four months to assist the club during this period of uncertainty," Villa chief executive Christian Purslow said.

He added that a further review would take place at the end of the initial four- month period.

Broadcast talks ahead of EPL return

The Premier League are in discussions with UK rights holders about how best to broadcast the season's remaining fixtures as the campaign edges closer to a return behind closed doors.

It is six weeks since the English top-flight was suspended in a bid to curb the coronavirus outbreak and talks continue as to when, and if, play can resume.

A return to action in June is being considered and it is understood the Premier League is in discussions over how best to broadcast matches with fans set to be kept out due to social distancing concerns.

"Ministers continue to work with sports governing bodies on how live sporting events can resume in the future," a Government spokesman said.

"This can only happen once we have passed the five tests for easing social distancing measures."