SG News (Straits Times)

Coronavirus: SPL clubs may cut pay to stay afloat

By June 21, 2020 No Comments
Fans watching the action from the sidelines as Tampines Rovers and Lion City Sailors play their Singapore Premier League match at Our Tampines Hub behind closed doors on March 18. The league was suspended last Tuesday.

Fans watching the action from the sidelines as Tampines Rovers and Lion City Sailors play their Singapore Premier League match at Our Tampines Hub behind closed doors on March 18. The league was suspended last Tuesday.

Footballers plying their trade in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) could be hit by salary cuts as part of the clubs’ austerity measures to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

Sources told The Straits Times yesterday that a majority of the clubs are considering the cost-cutting move as jackpot operations, their primary source of revenue, have been affected by the Government’s announcement last Tuesday of tighter measures to combat the spread of the Covid-19 disease.

It is understood the matter was brought up during a meeting between club chairmen on Monday evening, although a decision has not been made.

ST understands that most of the clubs have also not discussed the plan with their players.

The average annual budget for each SPL side is between $1 million and $1.5 million, and their monthly wage bills for players are between $75,000 and $100,000.

The nine-team SPL has been suspended since last Tuesday, after playing behind closed doors for over a week.

One club official, on condition of anonymity, told ST: “Most, if not all, SPL clubs rely more on jackpot revenue than gate receipts, and since we don’t know how long the enhanced measures will be in place… Cost-cutting is seen as a necessary measure.”

The pandemic has forced the suspension of major football leagues worldwide, and in Europe, clubs have also moved to tighten their belts. English Premier League chief executives will discuss the prospect of asking players to take pay cuts when all 20 clubs meet via video conference on Friday.

At Spanish giants Barcelona, Lionel Messi and teammates agreed to a 70 per cent reduction in pay, while Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest of Italian champions Juventus’ squad waived four months of their wages.

While these players boast hefty salaries – the average player reportedly earns €11 million (S$17.2 million) a year at Barcelona – those in the SPL earn more modest sums.

In the SPL, most Singapore internationals earn between $5,000 and $10,000 monthly – comparable to foreign imports – while local Under-23 players starting out earn between $500 and $2,500.

BAD NEWS

We often hear how clubs say they want to help players but, in a crisis, the first thing they think of is to cut our salaries.

PLAYER IN MID-TABLE CLUB.

UNCERTAIN FUTURE

Some players have families to feed, homes to pay for, or even weddings to save up for. And what about players who earn only $1,000? Will they now take home a few hundred dollars?

PLAYER IN TOP-FOUR SIDE.

One player at a mid-table SPL club, who declined to be named, said: “We often hear how clubs say they want to help players but, in a crisis, the first thing they think of is to cut our salaries.”

Another player, signed to a club who finished in the top four last season, said he had not been informed of any possible wage reduction but has heard rumours that it could be as high as 50 per cent.

He said: “Some players have families to feed, homes to pay for, or even weddings to save up for.

“And what about players who earn only $1,000? Will they now take home a few hundred dollars?”

Regional leagues are also looking at wage cuts. The Football Association of Indonesia announced last Friday that clubs in its top two divisions – which have been suspended since March 16 – are required to pay only 25 per cent of players’ salaries until June.

Across the Causeway, Johor Darul Takzim players and officials agreed to take a 33 per cent pay cut but players from other clubs are less comfortable with the idea. The Professional Footballers Association of Malaysia released a statement on Saturday rejecting any reduction in salaries.

There is no professional footballers’ union in Singapore but Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Lim Kia Tong said that it has met the local SPL clubs to address their concerns, adding: “The SPL players and club officials are critical to our ecosystem and the FAS will always place their livelihood and well-being as the highest priority in our considerations.”

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