A number of Premier League stars have joined forces to create an initiative called #PlayersTogether which aims to raise funds for NHS charities during the coronavirus pandemic.
Top-flight professionals have come under fire after some clubs placed non-playing staff on the Government’s furlough scheme, with health secretary Matt Hancock last week calling for Premier League players to take a pay cut.
Premier League clubs proposed wage cuts of around 30 per cent to ease the financial burden caused by the crisis but talks over the weekend with the Professional Footballers’ Association and the League Managers Association failed to reach a resolution.
However, a statement posted by a number of Premier League players, including England captain Harry Kane, said: “We can confirm that after extensive conversations between a huge number of players from all Premier League clubs we have created our own collective player initiative, #PlayersTogether, and have partnered with NHS Charities Together (NHSCT) in order to assist them in generating and distributing funds quickly and efficiently to where they are needed most.”
Hancock took to Twitter to applaud the initiative, he said: “Warmly welcome this big-hearted decision from so many Premier League footballers to create #PlayersTogether to support NHS Charities. You are playing your part.”
The #PlayersTogether statement continued: “Over the course of the last week we, as a group of Premier League players, have held numerous talks together with the vision of creating a contribution fund that can be used to distribute money to where it’s needed most in this COVID-19 crisis; helping those fighting for us on the NHS frontline as well as other key areas of need.
“This is a critical time for our country and for our NHS, and we are determined to help in any way that we can.
“NHSCT is the national umbrella organisation for over 150 registered NHS charities, working closely with the Charity Commission, Department of Health and Social Care, and NHS England to represent, champion, and support the NHS’ official charities. NHSCT are the official charity partner of the NHS nationally.
“The contributions that this initiative will generate will help NHSCT quickly grant funds to the front line to support in a number of ways, including to help enhance the well-being of NHS Staff, volunteers and patients impacted by COVID-19 as well as helping them in their work supporting many other critical areas of need, both now and in the longer term.
“#PlayersTogether is about we, as players, collaborating together to create a voluntary initiative, separate to any other club and league conversations, that can help get much needed funds to those that need it right now. To try and help, along with so many others in the country, make a real difference.
“Our prayers and thoughts go out to everybody affected by this crisis. By sticking together, we will get through this. Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.”
Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford revealed it has been a long process to get to this stage.
He told BT Sport: “It has been tough. I think from the beginning we knew what we wanted but getting it to this stage has been difficult.
“From our part (at United) Harry Maguire has played a huge part in communicating the information between the players and really letting us have our say and reporting it back to the authorities. That is the best way to do it.
“It wasn’t easy so credit to the people that played a big part in that. We want to help in the best way possible and getting money to the right places is a massive thing.
“It took a long time and a lot of conversations between the players and we came to the decision that this was the best way to do it and the club supported us. Everyone is happy.
“I think there has been plenty of occasions, for me personally, where we’ve tried to help but we’ve not helped in the best way possible. And you can get some backlash from that. We wanted to take our time with the decision. Thankfully, we have done the right thing.”
#PlayersTogether 🙌🏾 Over the course of the last week we, as a group of Premier League players, have held numerous talks together with the vision of creating a contribution fund that can be used to distribute money to where it's needed most in this COVID19 crisis. @NHSCharities pic.twitter.com/S7LtJVcdzh— Fernandinho (@fernandinho) April 8, 2020
Former England and United defender Rio Ferdinand told BT Sport: “Players should be trusted in situations like this to make the right call.
“I think the players were treated unfairly. They tried to push them into a corner to make a decision and the decision was made by other people on their behalf which I think was so unfair.
“The players are big enough and old enough and they all earn great money in the Premier League now and they have a right to make that money go where they see fit.
“I think they have made a great call with the frontline of the NHS, servicing those people who are serving the communities that we are all from.”