Roy Keane has addressed the criticism of Premier League players in some quarters over the issue of pay cuts due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and sporting shutdown.
In Britain, there have been calls from some for Premier League players to take significant pay cuts or wage deferrals to help clubs get through the shutdown caused by the spread and effort to try to contain COVID-19.
It appears unlikely that sport with large crowds will return for quite some time and, as a result, cash flow has become an issue for all football clubs at all levels of the sport.
Yet, Keane has argued strongly against Premier League players taking pay cuts. The former Manchester United captain said that the focus should be on billionaire owners of clubs, not footballers.
He said footballers have been unfairly criticised by some and backed their right to distribute their wages as they see fit, to contribute money to charities rather than take a pay cut.
Keane was asked by presenter Dave Jones how would he when he was Manchester United captain have dealt with the calls to take a wage cut.
“Looking at it now, particularly with the way I left United, and I’m talking about players at the really big, big clubs, with a lot of wealthy owners and pressure to take pay cuts… I wouldn’t take a pay cut if I was at one of the bigger clubs,” Keane said on Sky Sports on Friday morning.
“It’s nobody’s business what you do with your wages. You take your wages and if you want to be generous, go ahead and do it.
“There’s a lot of speculation out there, but I don’t think people should believe everything they read about what players are doing, taking 10 per cent or 15 per cent.
“Players should not feel under pressure, particularly at the big clubs, I know everyone is different, different circumstances. But your contract with the club is a personal matter and this idea that all the players have to do to this is nonsense. It’s up to the individual and if they want to stick to their wages, while they have a billionaire in the background, then do that.
“I am surprised at the amount of people jumping on the bandwagon and criticising the players, it’s nobody’s business,” he continued.
“I’m talking about the clubs with wealthy owners, I have sympathy for the lower leagues, you make sacrifices in the lower leagues, but the players at the top, where the clubs have the money, stick to your guns.”
“That’s the business side of it so when the clubs come to the players, and these are clubs with billionaire owners saying they are in trouble, they have to honour that contract.
“This idea that the players give up their wages, forget about it. They (clubs) are the first to tell you it’s a business, they have billionaires in the background, they are ruthless and they are discussing cash flow problems. I have heard it all before.”
You can watch Keane speak about the issue below:
"I wouldn't take a pay cut from any of the big clubs"
Roy Keane believes players shouldn't feel pressure to take pay cuts from their wealthy clubs – and will use their money to help elsewhere
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) April 24, 2020
The former Ireland captain also spoke about his own experience of dealing with clubs on financial matters during his playing days with Nottingham Forest and Man United.
“From my own experiences, my own contract situations at Forest and Man United when I was negotiating new deals and the day I was leaving the club, the club made it clear to me, on any issue of negotiations, that it was a business and I understood that,” he said.
“But I signed a contract and I expected the clubs to honour that.
“I was on the same money at Forest for two and half years, eventually I got a pay rise and I was told I was greedy.
“I went to Man United, they said they couldn’t match Blackburn for the wages. When I signed a new contract, they sent letters to supporters saying season tickets had gone up because of my contract.
“The day I left I was sat in front of (Alex) Ferguson and (David) Gill, who discussed cash-flow problems. Brilliant.”