The Coronavirus crisis has been a PR disaster for Premier League football

Leicester V Aston Villa March 2020

Coronavirus Crisis In Football – It’s now over 6 weeks since Leicester beat Aston Villa 4-0 at the KP Stadium, in what is the last match to be played to date in the Premier League this season.

Last Premier League match before Coronavirus

Leicester’s 4-0 win over Villa was the last Premier League match before the Coronavirus crisis

Premier League Coronavirus Calamities

In this time, we have seen an absolute PR disaster for the Premier League. This is from a combination – rightly or wrongly – of the clubs, the PFA, and the players.

Football often gets a bad press, sometimes rightly so, and sometimes it isn’t fair. The Premier League comes under a lot of scrutiny, and during the Coronavirus crisis, this is still the case. Probably more than ever, with no on-field action to talk about.

What has happened in those 6 weeks since the last match was played, has been nothing short of a Public Relations disaster for the Premier League, and top flight football in general.

The Premier League club’s decisions to furlough non-playing staff during Coronavirus lock down

The decisions of certain clubs to furlough non playing staff has gone down like lead balloons. This has spectacularly backfired, and was used as easy stick to beat the players with.

The players don’t take these decisions though, the club’s bosses do. And with some of these clubs owned by some of the richest people in the world, it’s easy to see why it has backfired.

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Common sense tells you that the perception of seeing a collective of rich owners, CEO’s on big wages, and players on huge salaries, while the low earners get furloughed at the tax payers expense, is going to be a PR disaster.

The stories when Liverpool and Spurs reversed their decisions to furlough non playing staff weren’t half as well publicised as the original ones, when the furloughs were proposed. The PFA and that NHS statement.

The PFA and that NHS statement

Then we had the statement from The PFA that mentioned that the player’s taking a collective 30% wage deferral would have a negative impact on the NHS.

Who on earth ever approved that to be released at that period in time? The fact that someone drafted the statement, and then I assume someone proof read it (maybe more than one person) before approving its publication, makes me wonder just what is going on in that organisation.

Over the last 2 to 3 years there has been open dissent to Gordon Taylor’s leadership of the organisation. On this evidence, it’s not difficult to see why.

Yes, they do do a great job of looking after old professionals. And as we have seen over the years, they do vigorously fight the player’s corner. But that is their job.

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That doesn’t mean they are not out of touch with modern times, and in need of fresh leadership though.

The FA gets stick for being behind the times, but I’d have to argue they’ve done more to reform in recent times than the PFA have.

Gordon Taylor’s chief role in the media over the last 24 months seems to just be him continually defending himself, mainly in the form of his relevance to his role in the 21st century, and more importantly (seemingly to him) his salary.

The Players and their on-going pay negotiations

No matter how much money you earn in life, whether it be £300 a week, or £300,000 a week, you aren’t going to just agree to a 30% wage cut because someone demands it. You are going to want certain assurances, and certain provisions put in place.

The players are right to want to make sure this is all done correctly. If this means negotiations take a bit longer, then so be it. This does lead to a very negative press, and is and PR for the players though.

In defence of the players, they will want to know what is happening to the TV money. Are the clubs still going to receive it? Surely if the clubs do receive it, the players will expect a smaller wage deferral?

If the clubs don’t receive the TV money, then some of their very existences will be at risk. Players themselves can work out that without clubs to pay their wages, there are no wages.

The Only Thing That Is Certain, Is The Uncertainty

There is just so much uncertainty in the world of football at the moment. The only thing that seems to be certain though, is that while all this negotiating is going on, the players will rightly or wrongly continue to get a bad press.

The players – through little fault of their own – seem to have carried the can for a lot of this.

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The fact that they earn a lot of money, and clubs make decisions to furlough staff is not their fault. I bet a lot of players also had their collective head’s in their hand’s, when they heard or read the PFA statement about the NHS.

Yes, the players have been let down by the behaviour of a few, but they are the minority. There has been just as many positive stories about some players.

Then there is the majority of the players who we hear nothing about, week in, week out. Why is that? Probably because they aren’t doing anything good or bad. They just get on with their lives and careers.

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