Brighton chief says Covid-19 is worst crisis football has faced

Coronavirus is ‘probably the worst crisis’ football has ever faced and Premier League sides MUST get player pay-cut deal in place urgently, insists Brighton chief Paul Barber

  • Brighton were set to make loss for second time in three Premier League seasons
  • The coronavirus crisis struck, making financial outlook even more bleak for club 
  • Paul Barber said: ‘This is probably the worst crisis the industry has faced’
  • Chairman Tony Bloom rejected offers of pay reductions from non-playing staff 

Brighton chief Paul Barber has warned that coronavirus is ‘probably the worst crisis’ football has ever faced and that Premier League clubs cannot afford to wait any longer for a deal over player pay cuts.

The Albion chief executive has called on the PFA to ‘come together’ with clubs to help broker deals between players and their employers because ‘clubs are in trouble’ and need help now.

Brighton were set to make a loss for the second time in three top-flight seasons even before this crisis struck.

Paul Barber, Brighton chief executive, warned that this is the worst crisis to ever hit football

Brighton were set to make another loss this season and then the coronavirus crisis hit

With those forecasts now looking even worse amid the ongoing shutdown, Barber, manager Graham Potter and technical director Dan Ashworth have taken pay cuts.

On Wednesday night, meanwhile, top-flight captains created a fun to fight coronavirus, with #playerstogether designed to help those working on the NHS front line.

But there has so far been no agreement between many Premier League clubs and their players over deferrals or reductions to ease the financial strain.

‘The financial position of our club along with every other club in the country is very serious,’ Barber said.

‘This is not a fire drill. This is real, this is probably the worst crisis the football industry has faced ever. And we must really take it seriously.

‘I understand the PFA have been doing their jobs and represent the players and I totally respect that. But this is also a time when we need the PFA to help clubs get deals with their players because it’s clubs that employ players and at the moment it’s clubs that are in trouble and the further down the pyramid we go the deeper that trouble is and we really do need some help at the moment.’

He added: ‘There comes a point at which everybody in this difficult situation does need to come together… we need to think of the difficulty many clubs are in. 

‘Some are lucky, some have very, very wealthy owners, some are generating profits… but many clubs including ours aren’t and therefore we need some help and now is the time. It’s not another month or two months’ away, it’s now.’

Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray have been leading the Brighton players’ negotiations with the club and Barber said their discussions have been ‘very positive and very constructive’.

He added that the squad have been ‘very understanding of the situation that our club is facing.’ And that any wage cut or deferral would make a ‘significant’ difference to their financial plight.

The Seagulls were battling top beat relegation when the season was suspended 

‘We were already forecasting to lose quite a large amount of money during the 2019/20 season and the crisis, no matter however it unfolds, will no doubt result in even greater losses,’ he said.

Barber said chairman Tony Bloom had already turned down numerous offers of pay reductions from other non-playing staff.

And, though the club have ‘no plans’ to furlough workers, they have turned to the government to help pay the wages of around 70 per cent of staff at their independently-run charity.

‘Clubs are central to their communities and therefore the ripple effect of football clubs of not being here in the future is more than just not playing football… we must avoid that. We must avoid the loss of any football club if we possibly can.’

Barber also revealed that Brighton’s players have made donations to local charities, including an NHS health and well-being fund and children’s hospice.

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