Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has refused to take a 12.5% pay cut amidst the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Mirror.
It has been widely reported that the Gunners are struggling financially in the absence of Premier League action and it was mooted that players and staff would be forced to take a reduced wage.
This was seemingly confirmed on Monday night when Arsenal released an official statement confirming a ‘voluntary agreement with first-team players, head coach and core coaching staff.’
“Reductions of total annual earnings by 12.5 per cent will come into effect this month, with the contractual paperwork being completed in the coming days,” the statement explained.
“If we meet specific targets in the seasons ahead, primarily linked to success on the pitch, the club will repay agreed amounts.
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Ozil rejects 12.5% cut
“We will be able to make those repayments as hitting these targets, which the players can directly influence, will mean our financial position will be stronger.”
However, John Cross of the Mirror has explained that Ozil, the club’s highest earner on £350,000-a-week, has decided against participating in the wage cut.
The German is said to be willing to take reduced pay in the future, but wants to see the full financial impact of the COVID-19 situation before rushing into a decision.
Ozil might take cut in the future
Ozil has clarified that he respects the decision of his fellow teammates and the coaching staff, while also urging them to show similar respect to his own course of action.
The player’s agent, Dr Erkut Sogut, has refused to comment on the situation, but has been quoted as saying that professional footballers should not take pay cuts.
“Deferral is an option but not to agree a cut today when the clubs may still make the same profit as last year,” Sogut said. “What the exact financial impact is on the clubs, we can see three to six months later – but we can’t see it today.”
Similarly, the Professional Footballers’ Association has opined that Premier League clubs should only ask for deferrals.
Ozil is one of three Arsenal players to have taken the decision, but the identity of the other two athletes remains unclear.
Stipulations of the pay cut
The Gunners are the first club to take these measures after 10 days of talks that initially saw the playing staff reject the 12.5% cut, which will be in place for 12 months until March 2021.
However, Arsenal will repay the difference if they qualify for the Champions League this season and, in that instance, would also pay a £100,000 bonus.
Any player sold for profit in the mean time will also be given a full refund.
But if the north London club only qualify for the Europa League, the repayment will shrink to 7.5% and not a penny will be refunded if they are not competing in Europe for the 2020/21 campaign.
Only time will tell whether Arsenal’s financial situation over the coming days, weeks and months will encourage Ozil to join the 12.5% initiative or not.