Pay dispute ‘very difficult for all players’: Lever

Melbourne defender Jake Lever has described the stalemate between the AFL and the AFL Players Association over how much of a wage cut the players should take as "very difficult".

With the 2020 season shut down until at least May 31 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and essentially no money coming into the game from the broadcasters as a result, the league has asked its 800-odd players to take significantly less money than what they’re supposed to receive.

Lever was frustrated by the public perception that the pay dispute illustrates how footy players haven’t yet fully grasped the magnitude of the coronavirus crisis and the impact it’s having on millions of Australians who have lost their jobs and are lining up outside Centrelink for financial assistance.

But the former Crow insisted he had a handle on how the community was being affected and said that AFL players weren’t immune from the economic catastrophe that is gripping the country.

“For me it is really hard, it’s not just the everyday Australian, it’s some of my close mates are doing the exact same thing as these guys at Centrelink,” Lever told SEN on Thursday.

“And you do definitely get to see the everyday Australian life that you do see, but for us I think it’s really important to put out there that footballers are going to be the exact same.

Melbourne’s Jake Lever says AFL players are sensitive to the struggles of the community at this time.Credit:Getty Images

“I just saw on Instagram, I’m not sure if it was for real, but a Richmond Tiger, a person that I played football with, he was out working this morning trying to earn money as a sign man on road construction.

“There’s going to be people in the AFL world, especially players, that are going to have to put up their houses for sale because of this situation and we’re just like everyone else.”

The AFLPA wants a 50 per cent cut of wages for the next eight weeks, but the AFL wants them to take a much bigger cut.

“For me at the minute it’s understanding that it [the negotiation] is probably something that could potentially take three, four months but it has to be done in a very short amount of time,” Lever told SEN on Thursday.

“You’ve already seen that the players are happy to be able to take a pay cut in the months that we’re not playing, and then the AFLPA and AFL are working together on what that looks like.

“I look at it as something bigger than football at the minute, it’s a world health pandemic and there’s things going on in the world right now that AFL football is probably a minute thing in it.

“But obviously it’s very hard at the minute.”

Making things harder for Lever was earlier this week hearing AFL legend Leigh Matthews say he had lost respect for the players in the way they’ve conducted themselves.

“In the end I think it’s just a situation that no one’s ever been through, so for us as players, for the AFL, for the AFL clubs, it’s obviously a really difficult situation we’re going through right now,” Lever said.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say there’s no textbook to be able to get out and actually be able to look at and then obviously go off that.

“I guess the comments like that, you do sit back and do ponder,” Lever said of Matthews’ comments.

In the meantime, Lever is continuing to train by himself in the hope that the season resumes in a couple of months.

“It was interesting for me yesterday handballing the ball against the wall and kicking against the wall down at my local park in Kew,” he laughed.

“That was difficult but I think that every single AFL player will be motivated to get back and put on a show for the fans, whether that’s with crowds or without crowds.”

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Footballer takes 50% pay cut to save jobs at club during coronavirus crisis

Hearts captain Steven Naismith has confirmed he has taken a 50% pay cut in order to save jobs at the club due to coronavirus outbreak.

The Ladbrokes Premiership was suspended earlier this month, leaving relegation-threatened Hearts rooted to the bottom of the table.

Relegation would be devastating for the Edinburgh club at the best of times but the coronavirus crisis has plunged the Scottish outfit into further uncertainty as it’s unclear if and when the league season will continue.

The club told all first-team players that there would be cutbacks if players didn’t reduce their wages and Naismith says he will half his salary in order to help the club through this difficult time, while he’s also confirmed he will stay at the club no matter whether they stay up or not.

‘The current circumstances put everyone in a very difficult position, but this isn’t a problem of Hearts’ making.

‘My family and I feel that, through a long career, football has been very good to us. Therefore, I personally feel that I can and should accept the 50% reduction in wages. I hope this can contribute in some way to the long-term survival of the club at a challenging time and save jobs, especially those that are the lowest earners and hence those who will be struggling the most at this time.

‘I know every one of my team-mates have unique circumstances with their finances, homes and families. I can assure everyone they are all doing what they can.

‘As captain of Hearts, I will fully support my team-mates, whatever decision each of them makes on this matter. I am making a commitment to stay at Hearts, regardless of which league the club is in, next season and look forward to continuing to lead as captain. I consider it an honour to represent Hearts.

‘I hope this can give some certainty in uncertain times.’

Naismith moved south of the border to join Everton from Rangers in 2012 and he was a fond member of the community during his four years on Merseyside.

The Scotland international works alongside charities to support homeless people and once paid for hundreds of meals to be served on Christmas Day at shelters across Glasgow and Liverpool.

Naismith would also regularly donate his matchday tickets at Everton to give to unemployed members of society, while he’s also an ambassador for Dyslexia Scotland.

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Arsenal 'willing to pay Thomas Partey's £42m release clause'

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta ‘willing to pay Thomas Partey’s £42m release clause’ as he makes Atletico Madrid star a key target in summer overhaul

  • Arsenal want to sign Thomas Partey this summer, according to reports in Spain
  • Mikel Arteta desperately needs to shake up his squad after another poor season
  • The base of midfield has been a problematic position for Arsenal for many years
  • Partey is said to want to say in Madrid so Arteta must convince him to depart 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is prepared to meet the release clause of Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey, according to reports.

The Gunners are in desperate need of a major overhaul this summer after another bitterly disappointing season that got worse on Thursday night when they crashed out of the Europa League against Olympiacos.

One of the positions Arteta is keen to improve is the base of midfield as he tries to fix a problem that has plagued Arsenal for several years.

Arsenal are prepared to meet the release clause of Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey

Mikel Arteta’s squad is in desperate need of a major overhaul this summer after a poor season

A potential target is Partey and, according to Spanish paper Libertad Digital, Arteta is willing to pay his £42milliion ($54m) release clause. 

The report claims Arsenal have already made contact with Partey’s representatives over a summer move. 

It is believed they will need to convince the Ghana international to move to London though with the report claiming he is content playing for Diego Simeone.

Partey has been linked with Manchester United in the past but, making 33 appearances, he seems to be an integral part of Simeone’s Atletico rebuild.

Arteta is willing to pay his £42m release clause but would need to convince him to join

The 26-year-old was impressive in their 1-0 win over Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie earlier this month and will be key to them holding onto that lead at Anfield on March 11.

Arteta has Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi as defensive midfield options but the Torreira has been linked with a return to Italy while it is highly likely Xhaka will be shown the door.

The Gunners were dumped out of the Europa League on Thursday night, conceding a devastating late winner for Olympiacos deep into extra-time. 

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