Premier League players in funding move for NHS

Premier League players have joined forces to create an initiative which aims to raise funds for 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 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 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 criticism during last Thursday’s daily briefing heightened the issue about players taking salary reductions but he praised the players’ announcement on Wednesday night.

“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.

Former England players Gary Lineker and Gary Neville took to the social networking website to congratulate the players for an initiative the statement said was “separate to any other club and league conversations”.

Meanwhile 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 10 per cent to 20 per cent to help avoid “traumatic measures” for the rest of the club’s non-footballing staff, while the basketball club are also reducing their salary.

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

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, the England and Wales Cricket Board and the 18 first-class counties in a bid to protect the domestic game.

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

Meanwhile, Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho admitted he was in the wrong for holding a training session with Tanguy Ndombele in a public park.

Mourinho was pictured on social media flaunting government rules by meeting up with the midfielder on Hadley Common on Tuesday, even though they kept to social distancing guidelines.

Fellow Spurs players Davinson Sanchez and Ryan Sessegnon were spotted running side by side in a separate session, while Serge Aurier filmed himself on Instagram running alongside a friend.

“I accept that my actions were not in line with government protocol and we must only have contact with members of our own household,” he said.

“It is vital we all play our part and follow government advice in order to support our heroes in the NHS and save lives.”

The World Athletics Championships have been rescheduled for July 14-24 in 2022, narrowly avoiding a clash with the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Oregon was originally scheduled to host the World Championships in August next year, but they have been moved due to the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics.

The Commonwealth Games are scheduled to start on July 27, 2022, just three days after the World Athletics Championships will conclude.

The World Athletics Council said the date had been agreed after consultations with Birmingham 2022 organisers, and will “prevent a direct conflict between any of these major events”.

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