Sheffield United skipper was effectively gagged during summit meeting over wage deferrals

Billy Sharp was not allowed to speak during the latest summit between the Premier League and top-flight players, which failed to see them reach an immediate agreement about wage cuts or referrals for those employed by the country’s 20 leading clubs.

Tuesday, 7th April 2020, 11:52 am
Updated Tuesday, 7th April 2020, 5:07 pm
Sheffield United's players were represented by Billy Sharp at the latest meeting: LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images

Although Sharp represented Sheffield United at the teleconference involving the officials from the governing body and captains from across the division, only three of his fellow players received permission to take an active role in the talks.

Unless the PL and the Professional Footballers’ Association broker a compromise between now and their next meeting - or individual teams negotiate actions on their own - the issue is next scheduled to be discussed later this week when delegates from Bramall Lane and the PL’s 19 other members meet to analyse football’s latest response to the coronavirus crisis.

With competition now suspended indefinitely until the nationwide health situation improves, the game is facing a series of potentially debilitating challenges due to the complexity of its financial arrangements with both domestic and overseas rights-holders.

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Contrary to how its stance has been portrayed by some commentators, the PFA has acknowledged the need to share the “burden” while many of those within the union have already taken part in fundraising efforts for the NHS and other agencies helping to battle the pandemic.

But given the huge disparity in what players earn across England’s leading five divisions - and the fact footballers are on fixed term contracts rather than rolling terms - requires the PFA to adopt a more nuanced approach than might otherwise be the case in another industry, where the difference people earn for doing essentially the same job might be lower.

The issue about what happens to those players whose deals are set to expire on June 30, when most experts believe sport in this country could still be in lockdown, also has to be addressed before serious progress can be made.

Although Sharp took part in last week’s get together, United’s PFA delegate Simon Moore is responsible for briefing Chris Wilder’s squad on the association’s stance and ensuring their voices are heard at its Manchester headquarters.