Arsenal's senior players have rejected the terms of a 12.5 per cent pay cut over 12 months in response to the coronavirus crisis, despite the club adding fresh incentives on new contracts in an attempt to persuade them to agree.
Under the proposed terms that were voted on yesterday, the club said that any player who was offered and signed a new deal in the future would, as a matter of course, be awarded the deducted balance in addition to his new salary.
There was also a clause that any player subject to the cut and later sold for a fee would receive his deduction back in full. That did not prove enough to convince the squad. With the players only too aware that the transfer market is likely to be slow in the extreme this summer, and the value of any future contracts in doubt, there were too few takers.
The club needed a majority of around three-quarters of the first-team squad for the proposal to be accepted and did not get close to that number, although it was not an outright rejection of the deal, with some voting in favour.
It is understood the players had a formal vote at around 4.30pm and none among the more senior professionals on the top-earning contracts voted in favour. The 'Sunday Telegraph' revealed this weekend that the squad had been asked to accept a cut in salary, with the club trying to incentivise them by offering that it be rebated in full if Arsenal were to qualify for the Champions League.
The proposed 12.5 per cent cut would fall to 7.5 per cent if the team qualified only for the Europa League. The club added the proviso that the cut would be rebated if the team reached the Champions League next season as well as this term.
The 12.5 per cent cut would have equated to around £25 million (€28.7m), a welcome economy for a club who have a £230m (€264m) annual wage bill.
That cost was described by director Josh Kroenke, son of Arsenal's owner, Stan, as "a Champions League wage bill on a Europa League budget". The decision means that Arsenal's players are holding the line with counterparts at other Premier League clubs.
The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) has advised players that they should not take pay cuts and only accept deferrals.
The players' union has also advised players to double-check any agreements negotiated between players and management first. So far only Southampton and West Ham have agreed short-term deferrals.