Leicester players face prospect of 40pc pay cut should Premier League champions suffer relegation
With Leicester City currently languishing on 21 points near the foot of the Premier League table, the side's players now face the prospect of a dramatic wage cut should the team suffer relegation this season.
After making history last year to clinch a first top-flight title in their 133-year history, the Foxes have managed just five wins this season under Claudio Ranieri.
Following reports of changing room unrest and increasing alienation between players and manager, it's now emerged the club inserted wage-reduction clauses into their players' contracts in a preemptive move to mitigate the costs of relegation.
A whole host of players from Leicester's Premier League-winning side - including Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and Wes Morgan - were handed new contracts last summer, but while such individuals enjoyed considerable pay rises, it's understood clauses stipulating punitive pay cuts were included in the event of relegation.
Summer signings, such as Islam Slimani and January recruit Wilfred Ndidi, are also believed to agreed to similar terms, with the most severe stipulating a 40 per cent pay cut, The Times reports.
With just 21 points to their name, and one point separating the Foxes from the bottom three, the threat of relegation now appears to be a real possibility for Ranieri's champions.
But despite the Foxes' perilous position, the Italian's role as manager remains safe for now.
The club's owners stuck by former Nigel Pearson two seasons ago as the side went on to avoid relegation and it's expected the Srivaddhanaprabha family will stand by Ranieri in a similar show of loyalty.
However, although the Italian will be handed time to engineer a recovery, the owners' patience will not last forever. As Leicester did two seasons ago, the East Midlands team must now recreate the same spirit and fight which saw them escape the drop in 2015.
The Foxes travel to Swansea on Sunday in a key clash with the prospect of all three points on offer at the Liberty Stadium.
Prior to that, Leicester face Championship promotion chasers Derby County in an FA Cup replay at the King Power Stadium on Wednesday night.
Although attention may be fixed on Sunday’s clash, defender Danny Simpson insists a win over Derby could prove a turning point in their season of struggle.
“It’s a big game and I don’t think you should write it off because of what is going on in the league,” he said. “I want to play on Wednesday, we need a win. Whoever plays, I think it’s a game we can progress in and give us a bit of confidence.
“We need fight, spirit, luck. We haven’t had that but we can’t keep saying that. We are conceding goals we don’t normally concede, if we are honest with that.
“This season is hard for everyone to get our heads around, it is tougher than we thought. The good thing is we’ve been here before [two years ago]. In that respect we have the experience.”