Stoke City star James Chester has defended comments from PFA chief Gordon Taylor.
Taylor vowed to block any order for footballers to defer wages to help clubs during the now indefinite coronavirus delay, and was heavily criticised for his stance.
He said: “We don’t just want anyone taking advantage of this crisis to suit their own ends. A request for deferral of wages has to be realistic and meaningful and needs due diligence. Players have their own welfare to think about.”
Stoke defender Chester, who is on loan from Aston Villa, has had his say on those comments, and he sympathises with Taylor, warning it’s not only the mega-rich who need representation from the PFA.
“Taylor is not just representing players earning £100,000 a week,” Chester told The Athletic. “He is also acting for those who are living week by week.
“The big topic in football this week is players’ wages. Tottenham’s decision to furlough non-playing staff, which I found surprising, put the issue firmly into the national view.
“Health minister Matt Hancock took aim at footballers in his coronavirus update on Thursday night, which I thought was a politically easy option given the justified attention on low testing levels and paucity of PPE for doctors and nurses.
“There are plenty of other high-earners he could have mentioned too — maybe bankers or business owners.
“It often feels as if football is used for political gain — a populist choice — when, in reality, the issues go far wider and are more complex.
“Gordon Taylor has received criticism for the PFA’s stance. They have held discussions about deferrals but want to see clubs’ finances before agreeing. We are all looking to do our bit amid this crisis and if it would help regular staff, then I’m sure players would want to assist.
“But there doesn’t seem much point players taking temporary cuts if it means the club simply saves some money, as the tax we pay to the government would be lower. For instance Stoke’s owners, the Coates family, have announced all staff will be paid in full until August at least.
“We must also remember Gordon Taylor is representing a whole union, not just the players earning £100,000 in the Premier League. He is also acting on behalf of those lower down the divisions, who are living week by week.”
Chester also gave examples of players who will be impacted by the virus, despite misconceptions of mouth-watering wages.
“I can give you an example,” he added. “Me and my missus hosted a quiz on Wednesday night on Zoom. It was six or seven of the lads I played with at Hull. Stephen Quinn is now at Burton Albion and he said his club has very stretched finances.
“People automatically think footballers are getting paid huge amounts, but it is not the case at smaller clubs in the Championship and those in League One or League Two. I could see some at that level being furloughed.”