First things first. Well done to Arsenal for leading the way in the Premier League and agreeing to take a 12.5 per cent pay cut.
The contrast between the Gunners and ‘that lot’ up the other end of the Seven Sisters Road has been stark. While Spurs were embarrassed into changing their minds when begging for government cash, Arsenal have led the way with their measured and consistent approach to dealing with the fallout from Covid-19– both in financial and human terms.
By refusing to grab taxpayers cash and furlough staff Arsenal have deserved credit by striking the right tone throughout this dreadful global pandemic.
Likewise, with Mikel Arteta and the majority of his squad agreeing to take a pay cut, they sent a message to the world that footballers are not the greedy layabouts many believe them to be – while also embarrassing our political leaders who were quick to jump on a football-bashing bandwagon recently.
The same politicians, it should be noted, that have singularly refused to take a pay cut of their own – with many showing themselves to be the hypocrites they really are by completely ignoring their own rules on social distancing and flouting official guidelines to suit their own purposes.
But when the news came through that three Arsenal players, including a ‘senior’ member of the team apparently refused to agree to a 12.5 per cent pay cut, the knives came out for Ozil.
Why should Ozil be forced into a pay cut when Kroenke is worth billions?
If, indeed, Ozil is one of the alleged trio of Arsenal players to so far refuse to take a pay cut – and let’s face it there’s been no official confirmation as we speak, meaning everything is purely speculation – my gut instinct is why should he agree to a drop in salary?
Why should Arsenal’s world class creative talent take a pay cut when the focus should be on the club’s absentee billionaire owner ‘Silent’ Stan Kroenke?
Why don’t people stop scapegoating players and look to where Kroenke’s billions are, and how much he is doing to help the club through challenging financial conditions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic?
Ozil’s considerable charity work
On Ozil’s part, it’s no secret he does an awful lot for charity and has funded operations for more than 1,000 children as well as significantly aiding homeless projects to the tune of more than £100,000 - to name but two worthy causes he has quietly contributed to.
If I was Ozil, I would also be slightly resentful that the club did all they could to force him out to save on the astronomical wages he received. The same astronomical wages, don’t forget, they themselves awarded him under the name of Arsenal - even if there was a different regime in charge when his lucrative contract extension was awarded at the end of January 2018.
Given that the cub has touted him around during the last few transfer windows, would it not be unreasonable for Ozil to view the club demanding a pay cut from him to be part of their campaign to get him to leave? A campaign perhaps orchestrated by the very same billionaire owner that has yet to put his hand in his pocket to help the club while the deadly coronavirus takes hold?
Put yourself in Ozil’s shoes
If you’d been actively targeted by your employers in a bid to get you to leave the company, and then the same people then tried to get you to take a pay cut, how would you feel?
Yes, he earns £350,000 a week. But you’d be a fool to turn that down. Anyone would. Likewise, why would you accept a pay cut, knowing full well, that for all intents and purposes, your ‘boss’ was a billionaire? All the while Ozil contributes a substantial amount of his time and money to charity projects close to his heart.
Would you be so willing to take a pay cut under those circumstances – certainly without seeing the ‘small print’ from your billionaire owner, and perhaps asking for a few assurances of your own from someone who is worth an estimated $8bn – or double that if you include his wife’s share in Walmart?
As with anything connected to Ozil nothing is black and white
The situation is far more nuanced and Ozil deserves the benefit of the doubt. Yes, he has to contribute – and I’m convinced he will – but surely the billionaire owner of Arsenal FC also has to willingly donate his fair share of financial aid surely?
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