It was always going to be Mesut Ozil wasn’t it?
If one player was to go against the grain and reject Arsenal’s request of a 12.% pay cut, it was going to be the German. He was always going to be the one who would give the media the headlines, and the fans something extra to attack him with.
But perhaps we need to spend a little bit of time understanding Ozil’s position.
For a start, Ozil is a huge donator to charity:
- Last year that the Arsenal playmaker paid for 1,000 vital operations for children across the world
- Paid £240,000 to fund operations for sick children in Brazil
- Fed 100,000 homeless people at 16 refugee camps in Turkey and Syria
- Works with UK charity Ray of Sunshine who grant wishes to seriously ill children
On top of the headline stuff, he also often takes the time to meet and greet disabled fans at the stadium and recently sent a lot of kit and boots to a village in Kenya.
For Ozil, he has not needed a global pandemic to do something charitable. He has given throughout his career.
To great headlines, Premier League players made their first contribution to NHS Charities Together last week. They raised £4million.
Footballers have been widely praised for this initiative. But with the Premier League yearly wage bill being north of £1.5bn, their donation amounts to 0.26% of the total annual salaries players receive. Not even an average days pay.
I fully understand why many players were not willing to get involved in the drive to raise funds for the NHS when many of them already donate millions a year to causes across the globe.
The situation at Arsenal is not about players raising money for the NHS. It is players taking a pay cut to ensure the club does not run into financial hardship.
In the past, I have been critical of players seemingly being happy to hide. To take their full wages regardless of what damage it might do to the employer. That it almost felt like they would be happy if their employer could not longer pay them so that they could seek a move elsewhere – for free due to breach of contract.
I went as far as saying that Arsenal players that refuse to take a wage cut to save the club should never play for the club again. And I still believe that.
But I also understand when a player, whether that be Mesut Ozil or someone else, wants further clarification as to why they need to take a pay cut.
Players want to ensure that any pay cut is to ensure the future of their employer. Not just to save their employer a few quid.
Another key question they are asking is “what is the owner doing?”
Stan Kroenke has reportedly guaranteed to pump a significant amount, which will run into millions, into Arsenal to soften the blow of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now if I was a player, I would be questioning what the form of this cash injection is.
If it is a loan, which is the most likely, I would be asking why the owner gets his money back (probably with interest) whilst the loss the players make will be permanent.
A player (or his agent) should be demanding Kroenke “inject cash” under the same terms that players are taking a pay cut. That if Arsenal do get Champions League football, he gets the money back. If Arsenal get no Champions League football, he writes off the debt.
At the moment, it seems like players are expected to take a hit. A pay cut which they may never receive the funds back from, whilst the owner will inject money into the club, but over time that money will be repaid to him.
Ozil is perfectly in his right to hold off agreeing to the pay cut whilst awaiting clarification for any concerns he has.
What should not happen is players take the burden of the financial loss. Their wage reduction should not relieve Kroenke of his obligation to the club. Kroenke should be injecting money into the club alongside the players taking a hit.
The players taking a pay cut ensures Arsenal continues to operate. That in turns ensures that the value of the club remains high, and therefore Kroenke’s investment does not drop. He will benefit hugely from Arsenal players taking a pay cut. And that is why he should also contribute, and importantly on the same terms.
It is very easy to jump on the Ozil bashing bandwagon, but think about your own job.
Would you be happy your employer asking you to take a pay cut to save your job, whilst the millionaire (or in Kroenke’s case billionaire) owner of the company does nothing?
If Kroenke injects money into the club, and Ozil still refuses to take a pay cut, he should never play for Arsenal again. But for now, lets not paint Ozil as a greedy Premier League footballer.
Ozil has not needed a pandemic to be charitable. He just wants clarification as to how exactly a wage cut will help the club.