Sheffield United skipper calls for frontline 'heroes' to receive pay rises
Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp has called for doctors, nurses and other staff on the frontline in the battle against coronavirus to receive pay rises, insisting their sacrifices must be recognised by wider society when the global pandemic ends.
Revealing he has family members and friends working in the health and care sectors, Sharp explained those performing other roles, including public transport and delivery drivers, also deserved greater respect for helping to keep the country running during a crisis which has so far claimed more than 128,000 lives worldwide.
Asked what the National Health Service means to him personally, Sharp said: “Some of my family are part of so it means a lot, they’re fighting for the country and trying to save people’s lives and doing their job they love.
“They don’t get paid enough or get enough credit and we should be proud of them. We need the NHS, they’re putting their health and lives at risk. We need to appreciate that and they should all be very proud of themselves.”
Sharp, who has spent the past three weeks training at home since social distancing measures introduced to help curb the disease’s spread forced United to vacate the Steelphalt Academy, was speaking during a video interview with the region’s media.
His comments came after team mate Enda Stevens criticised Health Secretary Matt Hancock for taking “a sly dig” at footballers for pressurising them to accept wage cuts or deferrals before their union negotiated an agreement with the sport’s governing bodies.
Like Sharp, Stevens has made a contribution towards the #PlayersTogether initiative, which is raising money for the NHS and its associated charities. The Republic of Ireland international has also donated money to help semi-professional footballers facing financial hardship in his homeland due to the break in competition.
“There’s close family of mine and I know friends whose partners are on the front line,” Sharp added. “It’s a risk for them to bring home but they have to do it, that’s their skill and profession, and when we look back they’ll say it was a proud moment for them.
“It’s a scary time at the minute but we need to keep supporting them.”