Premier League players launch NHS funding initiative amid COVID-19 crisis

Premier League players launch NHS funding initiative amid COVID-19 crisis
Players in English football's Premier League have joined forces to create an initiative which aims to raise funds for National Health Service (NHS) charities during the coronavirus pandemic and distribute them 'where they are needed most'.

Top-flight stars came under fire after some clubs placed non-playing staff on the government’s furlough scheme, with UK health secretary Matt Hancock last week calling for Premier League players to take a pay cut.

Premier League clubs proposed wage deductions or deferrals of around 30 per cent to mitigate the financial impact of the crisis but talks over the weekend with the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), the English players' union, did not reach a resolution.

But the likes of Harry Kane, Jordan Henderson and Marcus Rashford tweeted a statement about an initiative called, perhaps a little pointedly, #PlayersTogether, which has partnered with NHS Charities Together (NHSCT).

A statement from the group said: '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 needed most 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.'

Hancock’s recent criticisms heightened the issue about players taking salary reductions but he praised the players’ announcement on 8th April.

'Warmly welcome this big-hearted decision from so many Premier League footballers to create #PlayersTogether to support NHS Charities. You are playing your part,' Hancock wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Spanish football side Real Madrid’s players and coaching staff, Wales’s top rugby union stars, and county cricketers have all agreed to financial concessions during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Madrid’s players and coaches will sacrifice ten per cent to 20 per cent of their wages to help avoid 'traumatic measures' for the rest of the club’s non-footballing staff, while the club's basketball team are also reducing their salary.

Welsh rugby players earning more than UK£25,000 per year are set for a 25 per cent pay cut for the next three months from 1st April.

The Professional Rugby Board (PRB), representing the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and the four regional teams – Cardiff Blues, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets – came to an agreement with the Welsh Rugby Players’ Association (WRPA).

Domestic cricketers will take 'maximum reductions' in their salaries in April and May and have agreed to be furloughed if asked by their counties.

A collective player agreement has been thrashed out between the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA), the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the 18 first-class counties in a bid to protect the domestic game.

The PCA announced players will also relinquish UK£1million in prize money this year.

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