Arsenal players have joined forces with their Premier League peers to launch the #PlayersTogether campaign to raise money for NHS charities.
After discussions between the captains of each top-flight club, the initiative was confirmed last night with a coordinated wave of social media posts.
The biggest names in English football each shared the campaign statement, which reads:
“Over the course of the last week we, as a group of Premier League players, have held numerous talks together with the vision of creating a contribution fund that can be used to distribute money to where it’s most needed in this Covid-19 crisis; helping those fighting for us on the NHS frontline as well as other key areas of need.
“This is a critical time for our country and for our NHS, and we are determined to help in any way that we can.
“We can confirm that after extensive conversations between a huge number of players from all Premier League clubs we have created our own collective player initiative, #PlayersTogether, and have partnered with NHS Charities Together [NHSCT] in order to assist them in generating and distributing funds quickly and efficiently to where they are needed most.
“The contributions that this initiative will generate will help NHSCT quickly grant funds to the front line to support in a number of ways, including to help enhance the well-being of NHS staff, volunteers and patients impacted by Covid-19 as well as helping them in their work supporting many other critical areas of need both now and in the longer term.
“#PlayersTogether is about we, as players, collaborating together to create a voluntary initiative, separate to any other club and league conversations, that can help get much needed funds to those that need it right now.
“To try and help, along with so many others in the country, make a real difference.
“Our prayers and thoughts go out to everybody affected by this crisis. By sticking together, we will get through this.
“Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.”
— Héctor Bellerín (@HectorBellerin) April 8, 2020
Two weeks ago, a small group of players, including Hector Bellerin, admirably launched a separate campaign called #FootballUnited to raise £100,000 for the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal. There have been numerous reports of other players and staff working alongside charities to raise further funds.
This new initiative appears to have garnered far more traction. A few cynics aside, it has been widely welcomed and is expected to raise millions of pounds via players’ private donations.
It comes just days after health secretary Matt Hancock – channelling his inner Colin Moynihan – said: “Given the sacrifices that many people are making, including some of my colleagues in the NHS who have made the ultimate sacrifice… I think the first thing that Premier League footballers can do is make a contribution, take a pay cut and play their part.”
The issue of pay cuts remains unresolved. The Premier League asked players to accept a wage cut of 30% only for the PFA to reject the suggestion. After reaching for their calculator, they pointed out the taxman would stand to lose more than it gained if players agreed to the move.
Players are expected to agree to some form of cut or deferral in payment to help their clubs minimise the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, however, they have repeatedly underlined the complexity of the issue making clear a one-size-fits-all solution probably won’t work.
It took only a matter of weeks for clubs across Europe to start panicking about the potential fallout if current domestic campaigns can’t be completed. Not only has matchday revenue been cut off – particularly damaging for small clubs – but the bountiful income from broadcasters also threatens to be curtailed.
It has been estimated that Premier League clubs could lose upwards of £760 million if they can’t find a way to finish the final nine rounds of matches. Sponsorship cash is also expected to take a big hit. If that does come to pass, it could spell ruin for the lower leagues.
“Football faces economic challenges beyond the wildest imagination of those who run it. The pandemic will be followed by its economic consequences and all business sectors will suffer.
“We face the danger of losing clubs and leagues as finances collapse. Many communities could lose the clubs at their heart with little chance of resurrection.
“In the face of this unprecedented adversity, all the stakeholders within the game from players, fans, clubs, owners and administrators need to step up and share the pain to keep the game alive.
“Everyone should understand that the Premier League clubs are not immune from the impact of this and whilst they are impacted to different degrees depending on their cost base, the potential overall financial impact is huge.
“We must have a plan to ensure that English football is not decimated should this season be lost and next season blighted.
“We hope we do not need this plan as we are all determined to finish the professional football season, however we would be fools not to develop such a contingency plan. Those that lost their clubs because English football did not rise to the challenge would rightly judge us harshly.
“Time is pressing as football burns through its cash reserves with no sign yet of a resumption of the game. Pointing fingers serves no purpose.
“It is time for the stakeholders to agree common cause to save our game. Contribute. Football is a team game and now is the time for teamwork.
“The FA looks forward to working with all football stakeholders to safeguard the future of our game.”
While Belgium and Scotland have been gearing up to call time on their seasons, UEFA sent a letter to all its members warning that the premature ending of competitions could result in them forfeiting Champions League and Europa League places.
FIFA has sought to bring a measure of stability and clarity to football by confirming the summer transfer window will be moved and contracts ending on 30 June will be extended for a short period.
“It is now obvious that the current season will not end when people thought it would,” FIFA said in a statement.
“Therefore, it is proposed that contracts be extended until such time that the season does actually end.
“A similar principle applies to contracts due to begin when the new season starts, meaning the entry into force of such contracts is delayed until the next season actually does start.
“It is also necessary to adjust the normal regulatory position to the new factual circumstances.
“Accordingly, Fifa will be flexible and allow the relevant transfer windows to be moved so they fall between the end of the old season and the start of the new season.”