Michael O’Neill states that Stoke City are in safe hands as PFA release wage statement


French TV issue

A collapse in a French TV deal has sparked big fears that the same may happen in the Premier League – having knock-on effects for Championship teams such as Stoke City

The Mirror report that French broadcaster Canal Plus has told Ligue 1 and Ligue 2, the country’s Premier League and Championship equivalents, that it will not pay £100m due as the next instalment.

Citing force majeure, which allows a contract to be terminated because of extraordinary circumstances, Canal Plus have refused to pay due to the lack of games during the coronavirus pandemic.

Canal Plus chief executive Maxime Saada has written a letter insisting: “Our pay-TV activities are strongly impacted by the closure of large part of our sales channels and by the weakening of the attractiveness of our sports offers.

“Our advertising revenues are in free fall [and] our international television and Studiocanal activities are also severely affected.”

The fear in England is that, while home broadcasters Sky and BT Sports are willing to be flexible due to the pandemic, overseas broadcasters may not be so understanding.

Canal Plus has the Premier League rights in France and, with foreign deals making up £4.35b in the last round of negotiations, overseas interest is only just shy of the £5b earned through domestic broadcast rights.

It underlines why the Premier League are so keen to get the season completed.

Top tier clubs will have to pay back £750m in TV rights if they are unable to finish the season, which is an amount some teams cannot afford to lose.

There is no escape for the second tier though. While the focus is on the cash-rich Premier League, the issue will have a big impact on the second tier.

It is an issue that will impact EFL clubs, too, with the Premier League using a portion of the broadcasting rights to fund their solidarity payments to clubs in the Championship, League One and League Two.

Solidarity payments are linked to broadcasting rights, with each Championship club earning £4.65m from the Premier League last season.

That dropped to £700,000 in League One and £470,000 in League Two.

With parachute payments set to decrease for Stoke, naturally, any hit to solidarity payments would be another withered stream of income for the club in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The gaffer speaks

Michael O’Neill says Stoke City couldn’t be in better and safer hands at this time of crisis.

O’Neill says the Coates family has already demonstrated its intentions to keep the club – and its staff – secure by pledging to pay all salaries for at least the next five months.

Their pledge comes at a time when football at the top end is under moral scrutiny after the likes of Newcastle and Tottenham, despite their multi-million pound owners and footballers, have asked the taxpayer to foot 80 per cent of the wages of non-playing staff.

O’Neill says the security given by the club’s owners is crucial for himself and his players during the current uncertainty of the nationwide lock down.

“I have conversations with Peter and John on a weekly or bi-weekly basis,” he revealed, “so we are speaking quite a lot, with (chief executive) Tony Scholes as well.

“We have to be realistic as well, the longer this goes on, everyone has to make decisions that are in the best interests of the club.

“I know the club is in safe hands and the Coates family won’t make decisions like some clubs have, very quickly.

“What they haven’t done is risk the future of the football club so that you are in a vulnerable state – the decisions they have made have made sure that isn’t the case.

“I think that’s very important because it gives a lot of insurance to the players.”

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PFA statement

The professional Footballers’ Association have issued a statement defending its position after reports emerged claiming that they will block all wage deferrals.

The PFA wrote to all its members – including Stoke City players -to warn them that it is “vitally important” they speak to their union before accepting wage cuts.

Any independent act by a Potters player, or any player could send shockwaves around the UK after health secretary Mat Hancock pleaded with top tier footballers to consider their pay packets.

“I think everybody needs to play their part in this national effort and that means Premier League footballers too,” said Mr Hancock.

“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.”

Players across the top-flight, and well paid EFL footballers, are coming under increasing pressure to pay cuts due to the coronavirus pandemic that has led to the suspension of all football in England.

A number of sides, including Newcastle United and Tottenham, have reduced the pay of non-playing staff to compensate for lost revenue, a move that has received a fierce backlash from supporters.

But the PFA have claimed that reports they are ready to block all wage deferral are wrong, and they have been trying to put in place a structured and unified approach to ensure a fair response across the leagues and are in discussions with clubs and players to identify the best support they can off the country at this moment in time.

“This is an extremely challenging and worrying time for our country, and the world, as we all try to navigate the Coronavirus pandemic,” the PFA’s latest statement read.

“Our admiration and thanks are with the NHS and all keyworkers who are keeping our country going at this very difficult time.

“Football, of course, faces its own challenges. As this is an ever-moving situation, our staff are working tirelessly behind the scenes on this unprecedented crisis to address the needs of the players, while considering the clubs and the wider industry.

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Season ticket update

After the coronavirus crisis has ensured a delay in footballing proceedings, Stoke City have moved to issue an update regarding season ticket sales.

The Potters have stated that the early-bird sales period for renewing and purchasing a season card for the next season will close this coming Monday – the 6th of April.

However, due to the current circumstances surrounding the start of next season – as well as any possible financial issues that loyal Stoke supporters may run into under the current context of working situations in the UK, the club have announced that the early bird window will reopen at a later date, and that fans who do not wish for direct debit payments to be deducted should contact the club’s ticket office.

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“Current Season Card holders can claim their seat in second sales period at the current Early Bird price

Stoke City 2020/21 Season Cards will remain on sale at Early Bird prices until midnight on Monday (April 6),” started a statement by the club.

“Fans are reminded that, due to financial uncertainty for many supporters during this difficult time, the Early Bird period will re-open at a later date.

“The date of the second Early Bird sales period will be announced in due course.

“Current Season Card holders who wish to renew in the second sales period will still be able to keep their seat.

“Supporters who have committed to pay for 2020/21 Season Cards by direct debit who wish to stop payments should contact the Ticket Office as soon as possible.”

Key information – regarding the start of next season as well as the conclusion of this current one is still unknown to both Stoke City and supporters, as the coronavirus outbreak threatens to not just affect one season, but two.





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