England’s all-time leading goal-scorer Wayne Rooney feels it is a ‘disgrace’ that footballers have been asked to take a pay cut in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Matt Hancock, health minister of Britain had recently stated that Premier League players need to take a pay cut and “play their part” in the current situation. Also Read - For Ronaldo, 'Messi is Number One' But Cristiano Not Even in His Top-Five List

Due to club staff being furloughed under a government job retention scheme, the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United have been criticised, with many players coming under severe pressure to take a pay-cut. The players union representing Premier League footballers has questioned the league’s call for a 30 percent player wage reduction, reasoning it would reduce tax revenue for the National Health Service. Also Read - UK Government Gives Green Light to Sport Behind Close Doors From June 1

Rooney has ridiculed the move, saying footballers’ revenue should have been the last thing on his mind during a time when the world is struggling to contain the Coronavirus scare, especially in the UK, where the rate has climbed alarmingly high in the last couple of weeks. Also Read - English Premier League 2019-20 to Restart From June 17 After Three-Month Break Due to Coronavirus Pandemic: Report

“How the past few days have played out is a disgrace. First the health secretary, Matt Hancock, in his daily update on coronavirus, said that Premier League players should take a pay cut. He was supposed to be giving the nation the latest on the biggest crisis we’ve faced in our lifetimes. Why was the pay of footballers even in his head? Was he desperate to divert attention from his government’s handling of this pandemic?” Rooney wrote in The Times.

“The Premier League then announced it was looking for its players to give up or defer wages by 30 percent. This despite owners and the Premier League board knowing players were already deep in discussion about what their contribution should be. It seemed strange to me because every other decision in this process has been kept behind closed doors, but this had to be announced publicly. Why? It feels as if it’s to shame the players – to force them into a corner where they have to pick up the bill for lost revenue.”

So far, there has been no official agreement where players from England will need to take a slash in their pay and Rooney feels he needs to speak up on this debate regarding who is earning how much.

“I’m talking about footballers, people I have shared dressing rooms with. The pressure put on them is not acceptable and I need to speak up for them. At the moment it’s almost a free-for-all: it’s like the government, Premier League and sections of the media have set the players up to fall.”

With the Premier League and all major football events suspended, Rooney believes the whole matter has made players sitting ducks.

“For the Premier League to just announce the proposal, as it has done, increases the pressure on players and in my opinion it is now a no-win situation: if players come out and say they can’t agree or are not willing to cut by 30%, even if the real reasons are that it will financially ruin some, it will be presented as ‘Rich Players Refuse Pay Cut’.

“Whatever way you look at it, we’re easy targets. What gets lost is that half our wages get taken by the taxman. Money that goes to the government, money that is helping the NHS.”