Imposing a 25% pay cut across the board in the Premiership may be a necessary evil but it is fraught with problems and the devil is in the detail.
First of all, players like Jack Nowell and George Kruis, who have openly said they’re ok with the cut, are going to be alright financially but some of their team-mates aren’t as well off, definitely don’t agree with them and may not be too happy with that stance.
WATCH: Premiership Rugby CEO Darren Childs joins us to discuss what the likelihood is that the season will be completed.
It’s a lot more difficult for those lower paid players to stick their heads above the parapet because they might be judged for doing so.
I’ve had players come to me asking if they have to take a pay cut and legally they don’t. The Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) has also informed its members that they are within their rights to tell their club it is a “breach of contract”.
Apart from the fact that this affects players very differently depending on their salary, the detail is also vitally important. In reality, we don’t know how long this is going to go on for and we also don’t know whether full pay will be reinstated when players begin training again or not until games are going ahead.
If it’s a case of getting 25% less income for a month, it may not even be an issue but nearer six months and that’s a big deal. There will also be a mini pre-season of at least a few weeks and players would understandably be frustrated if they were still on reduced pay for that.
Imagine if you were a player who hasn’t got your contract situation for next season sorted out yet as well. Some of those players will feel like they don’t have a voice because offers could be taken off the table if they don’t toe the line and they may be seen as troublemakers.
Equally, those who know they’re moving clubs at the end of this season and perhaps also aren’t among the very top earners would understandably not be particularly keen to just accept a pay cut.
I think a major part of the problem is that it seems to be a blanket approach when it has to really be dealt with on an individual basis because every player’s situation is different and, on top of that, it sounds like it could have been handled better by certain clubs.
Clubs are in a very difficult position themselves and I think everyone understands the tough financial pressure they’re under. It’s a perilous situation for a lot of them and we all want a professional sport to come back to with none of them having gone bust.
Players recognise that too and many will instantly accept the pay cut as a result but they have to look after themselves and their families first. Rugby isn’t football and many live month to month, paycheck to paycheck. Some lower down the food chain have even more of a hand to mouth existence and I think that’s something fans just don’t realise.
I was asked to take a pay cut when I was at Brive, albeit obviously in completely different circumstances, and I’m not sure how it played out for all the players in the end but I was offered legal advice and I think that’s only right.
In my case it was because of the financial circumstances of the owner rather than a global pandemic, so it isn’t comparable, but the point is that it’s completely understandable for players to be getting legal advice.
Everyone has been affected by Coronavirus in some way and most of the country are being affected financially, some a lot more than rugby players. As a result, it’s difficult for players to feel able to speak out.
I’m not saying it has been but this isn’t something that should just be imposed across the league, it has to be handled delicately and done on an individual basis because every player’s contract and situation is different.
There are no winners in this situation, we all know that, but it can’t just be a one size fits all policy and players’ individual circumstances have to be taken into account.
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