The FA to cut 30% pay from top earners

The highest-paid staff from the Football Association (FA) will take wage cuts of up to 30 per cent as English football’s governing body manages the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham outlined the cost-saving measures in a message to staff which was also published on the governing body’s website. Gareth Southgate, manager of England’s men’s national team, is reportedly sacrificing UK£225,000 (AU$451,407) over the next three months under the plan.

Bullingham proposed that staff earning more than UK£50,000 (AU$100,312) annually should take a cut of 7.5 per cent.

“In the spirit of those on higher salaries taking the greater responsibility, the senior management team have agreed to cut their pay by 15 per cent with the highest earners in the organisation agreeing to reduce their pay by up to 30 per cent,” Bullingham said.

The FA’s announcement comes after the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), the English players’ union, hit back at British government calls for players to take salary cuts and called for clarity on clubs’ plans for the money saved on wages.

UK health secretary Matt Hancock continued his attacks on football players over the weekend.

“The hospices of this country have traditionally been largely funded by charity and charity shops,” he told ITV News.

“Those shops have had to close so I’m putting more money – taxpayer’s money – into hospices to support them but why don’t our footballers club together and support our hospices and support the national effort that we’re all in?”

Those comments came after Hancock urged top-flight professionals to “take a pay cut and play their part” last week.

On 3rd April, the English Premier League suggested players take a 30 per cent wage cut or deferral, only for the PFA to issue a statement saying such a move could result in a UK£200 million (AU$401 million) tax deficit.

While the PFA insists its members want to make ‘significant financial contributions’, the players’ union warned the government that the Premier League’s suggested 30 per cent cut of an annual remuneration amounts to UK£500 million (AU$1.3 billion), of which around 40 per cent would be contributed to tax.

The PFA joined the Premier League, League Managers Association (LMA) and representatives from all clubs on a conference call on 4th April but nothing was agreed.

Talks will continue this week and PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor has implored clubs to give the detailed financial information they had been expecting in order to make sure money goes to the right places.

“I think if they can’t do that and explain the position fully then they have every right to expect players to mistrust what is happening,” he said.

Asked if players were concerned about where the money would go, Taylor said: “Exactly that. They want the complete due diligence. They’re not stupid. They’ve not just got their brains in their feet. They want to know the reasons for it and where it’s going.”

The issue of football players pay has become a hot topic in the UK since top-flight clubs started placing some non-playing staff on the government’s furlough scheme.

Liverpool have become the fifth Premier League club to embrace that framework, but reigning champions Manchester City have confirmed that they will not be furloughing employees at the tax payer’s expense.

Manchester United’s players will donate 30 per cent of one month’s wages to local hospitals and health services in the first major coronavirus gesture from a full Premier League squad.

Chairman Ed Woodward approached captain Harry Maguire with the idea, according to the Daily Mail, and it was given full backing by the players.

United are continuing to pay all match day staff during the crisis and have not sought to use the government’s furlough scheme designed to help struggling companies protect jobs.

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Liam Watson is the Co-Founder & Publisher of Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy, industry matters and technology.

Sport and Recreation Events Funding Program a key investment in Western Australia

Western Australia events are receiving significant support through the Sport and Recreation Events Funding Program 2023-24.

The WA State Government has invested over $630,000 to a host of sporting bodies across a vast number of codes.

The objectives of the program are to:

  • build capacity and capability of the sport and recreation workforce and volunteers to plan, secure and/or deliver quality sport and active recreation events
  • provide opportunities for talented WA athletes, coaches and officials to participate at a national and/or international level in their home environment
  • provide opportunities for the public to participate in sport and/or active recreation events
  • provide opportunities for regional Western Australians to experience and conduct major sporting events and sport development initiatives in a regional location.

The program comprises three categories:

  • event projects (up to $15,000)
  • event hosting (up to $50,000)
  • the Country Sport Enrichment Scheme (up to $30,000).

In Round 1 of the Sport and Recreation Events Funding Program 2023-24, one of the successful applicants was Football West, who ran 2024 Goldfields Regional Festival of Football – a seven-day community engagement event that improved football capacity in the wider Goldfields area. After receiving $24,200, Football West’s main goal is to increase participation in the region.

There is still time to apply for the next round of funding, which closes 5:00pm on February 26, 2024.

For full information and eligibility to apply, you can find it here.

WSL eyeing enormous 150% increase to broadcast rights deal

In a historic first for football in the UK, every single Women’s Super League match is set to be broadcasted live from next season across multiple channels.

The WSL tender document issued to broadcasters this month features all 132 league games, with 56 to be sold exclusively and the remaining 76 available on a non-exclusive basis.

Under the terms of the existing deal that expires at the end of the current season, Sky broadcast 35 matches-a-season and the BBC 22, with the rest streamed for free on the FA’s website.

The tender document is asking for a huge £20 million ($38.48 million) a year TV deal and this 150% increase to the value of its broadcasting deal is far from surprising following the explosion of the women’s game. This figure is set to be confirmed as soon as they can find the right suitors.

In an attempt to gain an increase from the existing £7.75 million ($14.91 million) a year deal, the WSL have responded by making every match available for broadcast, which the league hoped would attract bids from beyond current rights holders Sky Sports and the BBC, It looks to be working.

Sky Sports and the BBC are set to bid again on the rights and extend the current partnership whilst it is said that this potential deal is also attracting networks like TNT Sports and DAZN.

The Premier League and EFL have stood firm on the UEFA blackout that suggests all 3pm Saturday matches are not shown on TV, to encourage locals to attend matches in person. This means the WSL will have to work around it and it is likely that Saturday lunchtime and Sunday afternoons remain as the most common kick-off times.

There is little the WSL are having to do to persuade broadcasters into putting their hands up for these rights, which is a testament to the sport’s current growth and upward trajectory it is trending towards.

FA Director of Women’s football, Kelly Simmons, explained how important it was to secure this monumental broadcast deal.

“While we’ve been developing this it’s been so hard to sit on it because it’s so exciting for the women’s game. It is transformational,” Simmons said in an interview with Guardian Sport.

“When I first came into this role, we said that we really thought women’s football could really break into the mainstream and this is mainstream, this is prime slots on television, big audiences, week in week out.”

This deal in particular launches women’s football into the mainstream and helps improve the quality of the product which goes a long way to opening the eyes of a huge audience to its impact as a sport and socially.

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