In Brief

‘F@@@@@g cheek’: Gary Neville hits back at Matt Hancock over Premier League pay and NHS testing

Ex-Man Utd star says the health secretary should focus on tests for NHS staff

Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville has blasted Health Secretary Matt Hancock for calling out Premier League footballers to cut their pay amid the coronavirus crisis. 

Speaking at the daily government briefing, Hancock said yesterday: “I think everybody needs to play their part in this national effort and that means Premier League footballers too.

“Given the sacrifices people are making, including some of my colleagues in the NHS, who have made the ultimate sacrifice and gone into work and caught the disease and have sadly died, I think the first thing Premier League footballers can do is make a contribution; take a pay cut and play their part.”

Former England striker Gary Lineker has urged for “patience” amid the debate over player pay cuts and Neville has also had his say regarding the player salaries and NHS testing.

Sky Sports pundit Neville has assisted the NHS by allowing the use of two hotels he co-owns in Manchester.

In response to Hancock’s comments he said on Twitter: “I wish I was a player for 10 more mins. The PL players are more than likely working on a proposal to help clubs, communities and The NHS.

“It takes longer than 2 weeks to put together. Matt Hancock calling them out when he can’t get tests in place for NHS staff is a f@@@@@g cheek!”

Could the Premier League play out the season in China?

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What about the rich bankers?

Many Premier League clubs and players have already offered to help assist the NHS in the fight against Covid-19, but the dispute over salaries is proving to be a “PR disaster” for the English top-flight. 

A YouGov poll this week revealed that 92% of the public believe Premier League players should accept a wage cut or deferral. 

However, some pundits have questioned why aren’t bankers and billionaires also being called out by the government?  

The Guardian’s Barnay Roney tweeted: “This is fairly pathetic predictable stuff. Why footballers? Why not hedge funders or retail magnates or those with vast unearned inherited wealth? Why not the Prince of Wales?

“Footballers always get blamed for everything. Commoners with money! Release the hounds. On the other hand, no one anywhere needs 300k a week... but that’s another story.”

In a column for the Daily Mirror Andy Dunn says that while Premier League footballers are “out of touch” and do need to take a pay cut, they are not the only people in society still earning a fortune during the crisis. 

Dunn writes: “No matter how out of touch you consider Premier League footballers, they do not need to listen to lectures from Conservative politicians - and that includes Matt Hancock, who cannot even get a decent amount of coronavirus tests sorted for NHS staff.

“Indeed, they might want to ask why MPs are not on the case of the rich bankers, hedge fund managers, currency speculators who still make financial hay in a city at the centre of this country’s crisis. Well, not on their case with the same gusto used in their attacks on Premier League footballers.”

Today’s back pages

Gary Lineker calls for patience over Premier League pay cut debate

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