Arsenal fan Piers Morgan has laid into Mesut Ozil over his refusal to accept a 12.5 per cent wage cut for the next 12 months amid the coronavirus crisis.
The Gunners yesterday announced that they had reached a “a voluntary agreement with our first-team players, head coach and core coaching staff to help support the club” at what they called a “critical time”.
The coronavirus pandemic is set to have a major impact even on the vast finances Premier League clubs boast, with Arsenal looking to cut costs on their £230million wage bill.
Had every player agreed to take the 12.5 per cent cut, they would have said £25m across the next 12 months.
But the Daily Mirror later reported that top earner Ozil was one of three players to refuse to agree, despite his £350,000-a-week wages.
The World Cup winner is said to be open to accepting a cut in the future but wants to wait for football’s financial picture to become a little clearer.
Mikel Arteta’s squad are the first in the Premier League to agree a cut, which will be in place between April 2020 and March 2021 dependent on certain conditions.
Southampton and West Ham have agreed deferrals while Express Sport understands Chelsea will also agree a 10 cut.
Arsenal have included a huge Champions League bonus plan as part of their proposal which means Arsenal stars will be fully reimbursed if they qualify for next season’s competition, and will also be handed a £100,000 bonus each.
Qualifying for the Europa League will see them get 7.5 per cent of their money back, while winning the Champions League in 2021 will pocket each player £500,000 – or £100,000 if they win the Europa League.
Arsenal declared themselves “proud and grateful” to the players and staff “for pulling together to support our club, our people and our community in these unprecedented times which are some of the most challenging we have faced in our history.”
And Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan this morning tore into Ozil for refusing to get involved.
Last night, Piers Morgan had already tweeted: “Disgraceful, but no surprise – Ozil’s been getting £350k-a-week for doing nothing since 2017.”
And following up on his criticism on Tuesday’s Good Morning Britain, the Arsenal fan fumed on the ITV Breakfast show: “Shame on you Mesut Ozil, shame on you!
“So let me get this straight, some of the younger players on far less money than you are taking a 12.5 per cent pay cut – a minuscule drop in the ocean for you – and you don’t want to do it?
“Because you want to see how the financial situation plays out while you’re sitting on your backside playing PlayStation every night rather than actually playing football? Really?
“Now I’ve preserved my condemnation for football clubs who have been furloughing, using taxpayers’ money when they’ve got plenty of money themselves – Liverpool, Newcastle, Tottenham, all got shamed into doing u-turns on this kind of thing.
“The players I thought were getting a bad wrap – this is why some of them deserve a bad wrap. People like Mesut Ozil, who just said no.
“‘No, sorry, no, I may be the highest paid player at Arsenal, I might be one of the highest paid players in the world, I might be worth gazillions and I might be sitting on my backside at the moment doing nothing but no, I’m not going to take a pay cut.”
Co-presenter Susanna Reid added: “Shall we compare and contrast to someone who definitely hasn’t been sitting on their backside – Captain Tom Moore.
“I do believe his efforts for the NHS have now raised £27million. A stellar example.”
Despite Reid’s comments, the money Arsenal save will be used to ensure the north London outfit remain in a healthy financial situation while their income drops for the foreseeable future – rather than be donated directly to the NHS.
Players from the league have pledged over £4m as part of The Players Together initiative, however, with funds going to workers on the NHS frontline and other key areas of need.
The Premier League meanwhile donated £20m to the NHS last month, shortly after Health Secretary Matt Hancock had called upon footballers to play their part in the country’s battle against COVID-19.
Following his decision, some have praised Ozil for his previous charity work having pledged the money to fund 1,000 kids’ operations and feed 100,000 homeless people at refugee camps and shelters in Turkey and Syria through the Red Cross last year.
Ozil’s agent Dr Ergut Sokut earlier this month warned players against accept cuts and told them instead to insist on deferrals.
That was after Premier League stars refused to accept a 30 per cent league-wide reduction as proposed by the league itself, which was accepted by club chiefs.
Sogut said: “I wouldn’t recommend agreeing a cut today because I don’t know tomorrow if the league will be played, if clubs will get TV sponsorship money.
“What the exact financial impact is on the clubs, we can see three to six months later – but we can’t see it today.
“Deferral is an option but not to agree a cut today when the clubs may still make the same profit as last year.
“When politicians tell players to do their part, it’s a distraction because they can’t even protect NHS staff.
“It’s easy to target these ‘greedy’ Premier League players – but so many players do so much for charity.”