Coronavirus: Roy Keane sympathises with players asked to take pay cuts

Leading European sides including Lionel Messi and co accepting a 70 per cent reduction but Premier League discussions have been tricky.

Mesut Ozil has been the subject of criticism for refusing to accept the pay cut.   -  Getty Images

Roy Keane has sympathy for the stars at elite football clubs being asked to take pay cuts amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With seasons suspended during the global crisis, pressure has been growing on players to forgo a portion of their wages.

Leading European sides including Barcelona have agreed cuts - Lionel Messi and co accepting a 70 per cent reduction - but Premier League discussions have been tricky.

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England's top flight proposed a league-wide 30 per cent cut in early April, yet clubs have since held separate discussions with their squads.

While Arsenal secured a 12.5 per cent drop in wages, it was later reported Mesut Ozil was among three players to refuse the pay cut, prompting further criticism.

However, Premier League stars, led by Jordan Henderson, have launched their own #PlayersTogether initiative to support health services.

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And former Manchester United captain Keane would prefer such calls on donations and cuts at cash-rich clubs to be left to the players.

"I'm not sure how I would have dealt with it, but I do have a lot of sympathy for the players," Keane told Sky Sports. "Once again, a lot of the players are getting criticised.

"The way I would look at it now - and I'm probably talking about players at the really big clubs, who have a lot of wealthy owners, with a lot of pressure to take pay cuts - I wouldn't take a pay cut from anybody if I was at one of the bigger clubs.

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"I know there's pressure on players, but it's nobody's business what you do with your wages. You take your wages, and if you want to be generous, go ahead and do it.

"There's a lot of speculation out there - I don't think anybody should be believing what they're reading about what players are doing, whether they're taking 10 per cent, 15 per cent.

"Eventually there've been a few statements from clubs probably near the bottom of the Premier League over the past week or so. They've obviously taken 10 or 15 per cent.

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"But I don't think any players should feel under pressure from clubs - particularly bigger clubs - to take pay cuts.

"They've signed a contract. I know everyone's different, different personal details, but your contract with the club is a personal matter.

"This idea that all the players should take a pay cut, that all the players have to do this, I think that's nonsense. I think it's up to the individual.

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"If they want to stick to their guns and say, 'Listen, I'm sticking to my full wages while we've got a billionaire in the background', then do it.

"Don't be swayed by some sort of pressure by the media, who will constantly write lies anyway about certain players. All it is speculation.

"I'm really surprised by the amount of people I suppose jumping on the bandwagon with their criticism of the players. It's nobody's business.

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"I'm talking about the top clubs here, with the really wealthy owners. Obviously I've got a lot of sympathy for the clubs in the lower leagues. You obviously make sacrifices, of course.

"But the players at the top, where the clubs have the money, stick to your guns."

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