During the coronavirus outbreak, football clubs have come in for a lot of criticism.
The likes of Tottenham, Liverpool and Newcastle were very quick to furlough non-playing staff. The first two have since back tracked.
What did not sit well for most people is the salaries of non-playing staff makes up a very small percentage of the sides salaries – less than 5%.
Tottenham announced they had furloughed all 550 non-playing staff.
At the UK’s annual salary of £24,000 a year, this would have saved the club around £761,000 based on a 3 week furlough. During the same period, Harry Kane and Dele Alli would have earned around £900,000 between them.
What Tottenham, Liverpool and the likes did was force low paid staff to take a hit, whilst leaving high paid players on their wages.
In 2017/18 (their latest accounts), Tottenham had a total wage bill of £148million. Around £135million would have been players portion. 2 days money (~£739k) would have nearly covered the entire saving the club would make on furloughing all non-playing staff.
Clubs came in for a hammering for their decision to furlough staff, but players were perhaps more culpable.
You can not force staff to take furlough. Employees have to agree to it.
For me and you, refusing to be furloughed would be a fast track to redundancy. No even getting your 80%. But a club will not make a football player redundant – logistically and contractually.
Arsenal have announced that all non-playing and casual staff will continue to be paid through until the end of May. However this is offset by players turning down a request for them to take a wage cut.
Whilst the media have been quick to criticise clubs, they have not been as quick to praise clubs for their good work. And that is where the two sides of football clash.
Clubs have a huge role to play within their local community.
Most clubs, including Arsenal, have long ran community programmes. Whether it is summer schools (I always went to Leyton Orient), providing pitches for local schools, books and more. They still contribute heavily.
Back in March, the club announced that it would be donating £100,000 to local charities and organisations that are supporting those in need during the COVID-19 crisis via The Arsenal Foundation.
A further £50,000 already donated to local community initiatives by The Arsenal Foundation, in partnership with Islington Giving, will also be re-directed to Islington Giving’s Crisis Fund.
The club also made all Arsenal in the Community vehicles available to transport NHS mental health workers, to be driven on a voluntary basis by Arsenal in the Community Staff.
Arsenal also ensured its current contributions in local schools continued, alongside the work done in Za’atari Refugee Camp, Jordan and in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The Arsenal Foundation joined forces with His Church and Islington Borough Council to help deliver 15 tonnes of emergency supplies throughout the borough.
The donation provided more than 30,000 free meals, as well as essential items such as sanitary and personal hygiene products to those most vulnerable in the local community.
Arsenal have also been working alongside the Co-op, delivering drinks and collections to The Whittington Hospital – the closest hospital to the ground.
The community side of Arsenal Football Club is standing up and doing their part during the pandemic.
Sadly these good deeds do not make the headlines.
The media would rather concentrate on players refusing to agree to a pay cut. And this is where the two sides of the club clash.
Whilst the non-playing side, the community side are doing their bit through The Arsenal Foundation and Arsenal in the Community, the playing side is highlighting the greed that is within football.
The sad thing is it is the greed of football players that the media write about, and not the good work done by ordinary folk who work for the club.
The majority of Arsenal staff have stood up and been counted during the COVID-19 crisis. It is just sad that the players have locked themselves away in their million pound mansions and not helping as much as they could.
What The Arsenal Foundation and Arsenal in the Community have done has made me proud to be an Arsenal fan.
PS: We have also done our bit, hosting quizzes every Friday night to take peoples mind off the crisis whilst raising money for the NHS. Join us against this Friday at 8pm on the She Wore Facebook page for the 3rd instalment.