Not all Premier League clubs are mega-rich – Bournemouth future could depend on pay cuts – John Cross

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Football may be a multi-billion pound industry, but it is not immune from the crisis crippling the nation.

There is little sympathy for wealthy Premier League owners, yet the reality is that not every club is as well placed as Manchester City, Manchester United or Chelsea to deal with the financial ­implications.

Bournemouth are among those ­vulnerable with ­income drying up during the ­coronavirus lockdown and, unless a ­solution can be found, the club could be ruined.

Chairman Mike Garlick has warned that Burnley could run out of money by August and stand to lose £50million in TV ­revenue and gate receipts.

Talk in Premier League circles, and on the regular conference calls, is of the ­particular difficulty facing the Cherries, who have a small stadium, a big wage bill and rely heavily on broadcasting rights.

During the coronavirus crisis Bournemouth may have to lean on Russian owner Maxim Demin, who is reported to be worth around £100m

Their Russian owner Maxim Demin’s wealth was at the weekend reported to be £100m and sources suggest it was a conservative estimate.

But the British Government has instigated a crackdown on oligarchs, specifically on access to visas, and their right to live and work in the UK.

Bournemouth will rely heavily on Demin – who they say remains hugely ­supportive – while there is no TV money coming in, and are certain to be one of the clubs hoping players agree to pay cuts or deferrals. Manager Eddie Howe has already done so.

With a capacity of just 11,300 at the Vitality Stadium, the fact there are no games is not the ­biggest problem when it comes to turnover.

But the Cherries, along with the likes of Watford and Crystal Palace, are also in a different league financially from City, United and Chelsea.

The possibility of having to pay back TV money and sponsorship deals is a big worry for a club the size of Bournemouth

And what is a big worry is the prospect of having to pay back TV money and ­sponsorship deals if the season is not completed. The 20 Premier League clubs could collectively be responsible for £762m.

The amount will differ from club to club depending on how much they have earned from live games being screened, with Liverpool ­possibly having to return £60m. But even a £30m bill would be a crippling ­commitment for Bournemouth.

Howe, who is on £3m a year, last week became the first high-profile top-flight figure to take a “substantial” pay cut. He did so v­oluntarily.

His assistant Jason Tindall, ­technical director Richard Hughes and chief executive Neill Blake followed suit.

The club have put more than 50 staff on furlough but insist they have been “socially ­responsible” by looking only at those who cannot do their jobs while games are on hold – areas such as ­hospitality, player protection and entertainment.

Cherries boss Eddie Howe last week volunteered to take a substantial pay cut

They are also topping up pay of those being placed on the ­furlough scheme.

When promoted, ­Bournemouth came up with the biggest wage bill in the Championship and still pay well. England striker ­Callum Wilson signed a new £100,000-a-week deal this season.

The Premier League’s ­finance team is in regular contact with clubs and, while none is in immediate danger, there are obvious concerns for the likes of Bournemouth.

Read More

Coronavirus in sport

They are a Premier League team trying to live on Championship revenue in all but TV money, and now that has disappeared they are trying to pay Premier League wages without Premier League ­football.

Liverpool and Tottenham applying for the Government furlough scheme has attracted much criticism. Yet for clubs without hugely wealthy owners to turn to,convincing players to defer wages or take pay cuts could be what keeps them in business.



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