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Premier League clubs face 30% wage cuts as season suspended indefinitely

Premier League clubs face 30% wage cuts as season suspended indefinitely

ESPN

Some say it began with Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal icon, on Oct. 16, 2010, against Birmingham City, when he wore a full-length, five-partition Nike Storm Fit winter coat that came down to his knees -- a foot longer than his puffy jacket from the previous season. Some say Jose Mourinho's assistant coach at Inter, Daniele Bernazzani, wore a big down puffer before Wenger did, early winter 2010, at the Coppa Italia. Some say it was Mourinho, who wore his at Chelsea practice, sometime before March that same year.

Some say it just sprang up and finding a patient zero for the long soccer parka, a universal and infamous piece of clothing, is like trying to trace the first player to wear colored cleats.

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Soccer is a copycat sport. It might have been Mourinho or Wenger who went first -- there's also a fair shout for Malcolm Allison, who managed Manchester City and Crystal Palace in the 1970s, as the first true parka-wearer in English soccer -- but in the past decade it's become a movement, with downy coats stretching across Europe and into the Americas.

England gets frigid in the winter; soon after the jackets bubbled up there, they ended up across top-flight European leagues. While managers' need for warmth wasn't taken seriously at first -- the meme economy was lousy with jokes about Wenger's long jacket and its correlation with missing titles -- the jackets were too practical to ignore.

Parkas cut for the pitch have since spread beyond soccer to high fashion. But they're not really found in the stands and are not easily available for fans to buy. In fact, they're barely sportswear and mostly produced now, without club logos, by fashion houses in Milan and Paris. Why does an infamous piece of club merchandise only sell in odd, remaindered sizes, in modified versions, in second-hand stores or showcase them on catwalks?

The New York Times ran a story about soccer managers' ugly coats shortly after a definitive Wenger meme went viral, a zipper malfunction during a 2012 Arsenal win over Newcastle. The story singled out Wenger, Sir Alex Ferguson and Rafael Benitez as ill-dressed; Roberto Mancini, Mourinho and Andre Villas-Boas were suave by comparison. Sarah Lyall, the Times' London correspondent who wrote the story, identified three archetypes: the "East German apparatchik, suave Italian and slob in a tracksuit." Wenger's long down coat, worn oversized, had an Eastern Bloc chicness to it but six years ago, it was "aggressively unstylish." The paper described Wenger's parka as "oddly elongated, sausage-like... makes him look like a caterpillar... [a] multizippered, hooded curiosity."

In a phone interview, Lyall said stylish dress was one way Premier League coaches made their authority over players more absolute. Natty Europeans seemed to do what basketball coaches do here, "[priding] themselves on being super sharply dressed as a way of exerting some sort of authority over the pitch when they were coaching." It's a type of fear through style.

Lyall told me she focused on Wenger's jacket since it was "a source of huge amusement and ridicule for both Arsenal fans and non-Arsenal fans." As she saw it, his parka overshadowed his suits. She also preferred Mancini's slim-fitting, nonchalant style, and then-Exeter boss Paul Tisdale's overcoats and foulards, to the slovenly tracksuits worn by some coaches. Still, a long down jacket is a better career move than an umbrella and in the past decade, it's become a feature across soccer.

Pep Guardiola, at Man City, wore a black DSquared2 number for a while, slightly more formal than something by Nike or Adidas. Jupp Heynckes stayed warm in his final season at Bayern Munich in an Adidas puffer: it had six partitions, his initials on one side and the club crest over his heart. In England, Roy Hodgson's Puma parka had Crystal Palace's crest on the left breast; so did Ole Gunnar Solskjær at United, though his was Adidas and cut shorter.

Frank Lampard wore Nike at Chelsea, as did Roma's Claudio Ranieri. Bob Bradley did purple Joma at Swansea and navy Nike stateside, and Lucien Favre at Dortmund and Dieter Hecking at Mönchengladbach wore long black Puma and Kappa puffers. Before Mourinho was sacked at United, he went for formal black down vests and crombie-down hybrids, no logo and keptbranded athletic puffer jackets to practice.

Wenger stuck with his long Nikes, the wildest and longest of the bunch, until Arsenal switched to Puma, whose parkas were easier to zip up (at least according to their marketing).

It could it be that the "coaches' cut" was ahead of its time. Limited mostly to the pitch in London, long parkas now litter catwalks in Milan and Paris. It seems every fashion house has made one. There is a shiny down Valentino (about $2,400), and a Moncler version (about the same price). Balenciaga has one ($3,500), the biggest of the bunch, and Vetements made a sleeping bag coat ($3,850) -- both designed by Georgia native Demna Gvasalia, who included soccer scarves in his other collections. (There's even a parka named the Wenger, by Martine Rose, a designer from south London.)

Soccer and fashion have gone well together for a long time. Hidetoshi Nakata, when he played at Parma nearly 20 years ago, was among the most stylish athletes of his era and is regularly seen at runway shows. Didier Drogba created collections for H&M and modeled briefs for Emporio Armani and Calvin Klein, with Freddie Ljungberg his CK backup in England.>

Zlatan Ibrahimovic loves American designer Rick Owens' severe outfits and there is a short list of current players who launched sub-labels for athletic brands or their own lines, like Jesse Lingard, though not all have succeeded. Fashion has rubbed shoulders with soccer as well. Italy's Stone Island was associated with soccer hooligans for decades and Dolce & Gabbana made a Maradona jersey -- and got sued.

It makes sense fashion is picking up the slack, producing memorable, useful jackets that get seconds looks. But it is puzzling that the most unique piece of merchandise in soccer is so unattainable to fans.

Nike, New Balance, Puma and Adidas make longer, "soccer cut" parkas without branding, in different colors, but mostly for the East Asian market and entirely free of club logos. There are no long parkas for sale at Arsenal's online shop -- the Wenger-cut jackets were even pulled from the Arsenal store for lack of demand in 2013 -- and I've never seen one at a vintage store in Paris, New York or at a flea market anywhere. Felix Dean, a London dealer who specializes in vintage sportswear, sold a few, including an Arsenal one, but says they're "rarely seen when I'm out and about digging for stock." James Ritter, who runs Joint Custody, a vintage store in Washington D.C., says he runs across a good amount of 2000s Nike jackets -- "a tough look" -- but "not the team ones."

Nearly everything that can be licensed by a sports team has been. A fan can fire up the Milwaukee Brewers toaster for breakfast, feed the kid with a Paris St. Germain baby bottle and suit up in a Pittsburgh Steelers valve-stem covers for the commute, be productive on a Juventus mousepad, unwind with a San Francisco Giants wine tumbler and spend the weekend in a Real Madrid canopy tent. That fan can go to South Korea, or a reseller site, and find a sideline parka, maybe with a logo, maybe for the club they support. But they can't wear Mourinho's, or Lampard's, or Wenger's without a lot of work.

In the end, that rarity brings cachet. It's a tease to not have the real thing, but it's not impossible to get a club parka. They're out there, like colored cleats used to be, in small numbers. Diehard fans wear long parkas to matches, around London, in Europe. I've seen a few in New York (Brazil, USMNT to name just two) and in the course of reporting, several online, even a "Wenger." The coolest item in soccer isn't sold in stores, or for every club, but it's still for sale. Maybe just go on eBay. It's about winning, isn't it?

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has said that leagues that end early without permission due to the coronavirus pandemic could face a European competitions ban next season.

Belgium became the first European top-tier league to cancel the rest of its season on Thursday, with Club Brugge crowned league champions. The decision came hours before UEFA, the European Club Association and the European Leagues umbrella group sent a joint letter to their members saying it was of "paramount importance" that competitions, including domestic leagues, were decided on the field.

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Ceferin said Belgium's decision to cancel the remainder of their season was not taken in solidarity with UEFA and that the country could face a ban from European competitions as a result.

"I don't think this is the right move, as solidarity is not a one-way street," Ceferin told German TV station ZDF. "You cannot just ask for solidarity and then just decide however it fits you at that moment. And I must say that they, and the ones who might decide that way, risk of not being able to play in European competitions next year."

All of Europe's major leagues are on hold due to the pandemic. Football in England, Spain, France and Germany has been postponed indefinitely, while Serie A is suspended until at least April 13.

The UEFA Champions League and Europa League competitions have also been suspended indefinitely, while Euro 2020 has been postponed by a year.

Ceferin also said that European football's governing body has €600 million in cash reserves to help clubs with the financial implications caused by the coronavirus.

"We will have to use them, but I don't think that we are in danger of being financially weak or something like that," he added.

"I used to question that, I was wondering why we have so much money on the account instead of giving it to the federations, clubs and stakeholders. Now I understand how important it was because if we wouldn't have it, we would be in serious trouble now."

The UEFA president added that Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules could be postponed to further aid clubs against growing economic concerns.

Manchester City have launched an investigation after Kyle Walker apologised for allegedly hosting a party with sex workers during the coronavirus lockdown.

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The England defender is facing disciplinary procedures after a report in The Sun newspaper claimed he and a friend paid for two sex workers to visit his Cheshire home just hours after issuing a plea to his social media followers to follow UK government advice and "keep following the protocols" during the pandemic.

A statement issued by Walker, 29, read: "I want to take this opportunity to issue a public apology for the choices I made last week which have resulted in a story today about my private life in a tabloid newspaper.

"I understand that my position as a professional footballer brings the responsibility of being a role model. As such, I want to apologise to my family, friends, football club, supporters and the public for letting them down.

"There are heroes out there making a vital difference to society at the moment, and I have been keen to help support and highlight their amazing sacrifices and life-saving work over the past week.

"My actions in this matter are in direct contrast to what I should have been doing regarding the lockdown. And I want to re-iterate the message: Stay home, stay safe."

Walker and the rest of the City squad are training at home following the suspension of the Premier League. He has not played since the Carabao Cup final victory over Aston Villa on March 1 and is facing a club fine after City said they were "disappointed" with the allegations.

A City statement read: "Manchester City FC are aware of a story in a tabloid newspaper regarding the private life of Kyle Walker in relation to a breach of the UK lockdown and social distancing rules.

"Footballers are global role models, and our staff and players have been working to support the incredible efforts of the NHS and other key workers in fighting the effects of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, in any way we can. Kyle's actions in this matter have directly contravened these efforts.

"We are disappointed to hear the allegations, note Kyle's swift statement and apology, and will be conducting an internal disciplinary procedure in the coming days."

Manchester United legend Gary Neville has said that the Premier League's handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been a "disaster."

A number of Premier League clubs have faced criticism for forcing non-playing staff on temporary leave. Liverpool announced on Saturday that some members of its staff would receive 80% of their salary through the government's job retention scheme, and the club would make up the final 20% of their salary.

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Tottenham, Newcastle, Norwich and Bournemouth have also placed non-playing staff on furlough to varying degrees.

Neville said that league officials have handled the coronavirus pandemic "terribly" and has criticised them for being slow to postpone games in the early stages of the country's outbreak, targetting players over their salaries and slowness to support lower domestic leagues.

"Football has too many stakeholders with different interests," Neville said on Twitter. "A re-alignment for all clubs, fans and the game would be welcome."

The PL are handling the CV crisis terribly -slow to lockdown/tried one last weekend of games -furloughing straight away a PR disaster-turning on players publicly/trying to blindside them-no increase in funding for EFL/Non League-all stakeholders unhappy with their approach

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher criticised his former club on Saturday, saying that the Premier League leaders will lose "goodwill and respect" after they placed some staff on temporary leave.

Meanwhile, some British politicians called footballers immoral for not volunteering to take a pay cut. England and Manchester United's all-time leading goalscorer Wayne Rooney has called public pressure for players to do so a "disgrace" and said they are being backed into a corner.

The Premier League season has been postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic and clubs are in talks with the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) over a 30% player-pay deferral plan, following a video conference on Friday.

Last month, as the outbreak began in the UK, England's top-flight had planned to go ahead with fixtures, even after Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson Odoi had tested positive for the virus. The decision to postpone English football came after the Champions League, Europa League and Serie A announced suspensions.

Wayne Rooney has told the Times that the public pressure on footballers to accept a pay cut during the coronavirus crisis is a "disgrace."

Britain health secretary Matt Hancock said on Thursday that Premier League players need to take a pay cut and "play their part" during the pandemic.

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His comments came as players face intense public pressure to accept pay deferrals in the wake of Tottenham and Newcastle furloughing non-playing staff, at the same time as maintaining player wages at their usual level. Liverpool have also been criticised for furloughing non-playing staff, while the the union representing Premier League footballers has questioned the league's call  for a 30% player wage reduction.

Rooney, England's and Manchester United's all-time leading goal scorer, wrote in the Times: "How the past few days have played out is a disgrace. First the health secretary, Matt Hancock, in his daily update on coronavirus, said that Premier League players should take a pay cut. He was supposed to be giving the nation the latest on the biggest crisis we've faced in our lifetimes. Why was the pay of footballers even in his head? Was he desperate to divert attention from his government's handling of this pandemic?

"The Premier League then announced it was looking for its players to give up or defer wages by 30%. This despite owners and the Premier League board knowing players were already deep in discussion about what their contribution should be. It seemed strange to me because every other decision in this process has been kept behind closed doors, but this had to be announced publicly. Why? It feels as if it's to shame the players -- to force them into a corner where they have to pick up the bill for lost revenue."

There has so far been no universal agreement regarding wage reductions for players in England. Rooney, who plays for Derby County in England's second tier, said he feels he needs to speak up regarding the debate around who earns what.

He said: "I'm talking about footballers, people I have shared dressing rooms with. The pressure put on them is not acceptable and I need to speak up for them. At the moment it's almost a free-for-all: it's like the government, Premier League and sections of the media have set the players up to fall."

In addition to the pay deferral plan, the Premier League has also sanctioned a £125 million grant to clubs in the EFL and National League and a £20m donation to the National Health Service (NHS) to support the battle against the coronavirus.

But Rooney believes the Premier League's directive regarding player pay has made the players easy targets.

He added: "For the Premier League to just announce the proposal, as it has done, increases the pressure on players and in my opinion it is now a no-win situation: if players come out and say they can't agree or are not willing to cut by 30%, even if the real reasons are that it will financially ruin some, it will be presented as 'Rich Players Refuse Pay Cut'.

"Whatever way you look at it, we're easy targets. What gets lost is that half our wages get taken by the taxman. Money that goes to the government, money that is helping the NHS."

The Premier League and all major football leagues are suspended indefinitely amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Jamie Carragher has criticised former club Liverpool after they announced some nonplaying staff would be placed on temporary leave during the coronavirus crisis. 

Staff affected will receive 80% of their salary through the government's job retention scheme; something that has already happened at Newcastle, Tottenham, Bournemouth and Norwich as Premier League clubs count the cost of the virus. Liverpool said they will top up the remaining 20%.

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The Premier League leaders announced in February that they made a pre-tax profit of £42 million and increased turnover to £533m. They spent £43m on agents' fees last year.

Following their decision to take advantage of the government's furlough scheme, Carragher, who played for the club between 1996-2013, wrote on Twitter: "Jurgen Klopp showed compassion for all at the start of this pandemic, senior players heavily involved in @premierleague players taking wage cuts. Then all that respect & goodwill is lost, poor this @LFC."

Jurgen Klopp showed compassion for all at the start of this pandemic, senior players heavily involved in @premierleague players taking wage cuts. Then all that respect & goodwill is lost, poor this @LFC https://t.co/9bE8Rw1veE

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said he was reduced to tears by video footage of people singing You'll Never Walk Alone to medical staff in a hospital with patients being treated during the pandemic, and the club have said the situation regarding nonplaying staff is "ongoing."

A Liverpool statement read: "Even prior to the decision on staff furloughing, there was a collective commitment at senior levels of the club -- on and off the pitch -- with everyone working towards a solution that secures jobs for employees of the club during this unprecedented crisis.

"There is ongoing active engagement about the topic of salary deductions during the period matches are not being played to schedule. These discussions are complex and as a result the process is ongoing."

Britain's health minister, Matt Hancock, said on Thursday that Premier League players need to take a pay cut and "play their part" during the pandemic. His comments came after intense public pressure to accept pay deferrals in the wake of Tottenham and Newcastle furloughing nonplaying staff, at the same time as maintaining player wages at their usual level.

Premier League players are in discussions over a 30% pay cut to their salaries, with the league suspended indefinitely, but Danny Rose, on loan to Newcastle from Spurs, said he didn't appreciate those outside of football weighing in on how those cuts would happen.

"We sort of feel that our backs are against the wall," Rose told the BBC. "Conversations were being had before people outside of football were commenting.

"I've been on the phone to [Liverpool captain] Jordan Henderson and he's working so hard to come up with something.

"It was just not needed for people who are not involved in football to tell footballers what they should do with their money. I found that so bizarre."

Meanwhile, Burnley club chairman Mike Garlick said on Saturday that they could run out of money by August if the season does not resume by then.

In a statement on their website Burnley said they stood to lose up to £50 million in revenue if the Premier League was not completed.

"The fact of the matter is if we don't finish this season and there isn't a clear start date for next season we as a club will run out of money by August, that's a fact," Garlick told Sky Sports. "I can't speak for other clubs.

"That's why we are very, very determined that when it's safe to do so we really do want to finish this season. Finishing the season is the only real outcome for all the Premier League clubs."

For Andreas Pereira, there is an upside to life in isolation. Under normal circumstances, Manchester United would be playing games across Europe, but the coronavirus pandemic has put a stop to that and, like every other Premier League footballer, he is spending an extended spell at home for the first time in his career. The timing is fortunate; two-month-old daughter Maria-Victoria is keeping Pereira occupied.

"It's really strange," Pereira said in an interview with ESPN. "I'm home all the time and I'm not used to this life. I'm used to playing football every day, travelling, playing games ... It's like I'm retired!

"I'm not sleeping so good, but it's fine. I'm enjoying being with the family -- the baby and my wife. It's been very chilled and nice to stay with the family because normally we are travelling. I really like it (being a new father). It's a lot of work but it's fine -- my wife is here, so I can relax sometimes.

Unbelievable tekkers from Man United's @andreaspereira

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