Rooney brands public pressure on players ‘a disgrace’

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LONDON Wayne Rooney has criticised both the Government and the Premier League for placing the nation’s top footballers in a “no-win situation” over the issue of pay cuts, branding their interventions “a disgrace”. The former England captain, now playing in the Championship with Derby, penned an impassioned column in the Sunday Times in which he claimed his fellow professionals were being lined up as “easy targets” in the wider response to the coronavirus crisis. Rooney made it clear he had both the means and the will to make significant financial contributions, either in the form of salary reductions or direct donations to the NHS, but felt the public pressure being exerted on players was unhelpful. The Premier League’s suggested 30 per cent wage cut or deferral strategy was discussed in a conference call with the Professional Footballers’ Association and the League Managers Association on Saturday, but initial talks were already ongoing before key political figures, including Health Secretary Matt Hancock, called for them to take action. “If the government approached me to help support nurses financially or buy ventilators I’d be proud to do so – as long as I knew where the money was going,” wrote Rooney. “I’m in a position where I could give something up. Not every footballer is in the same position. Yet suddenly the whole profession has been put on the spot with a demand for 30 per cent pay cuts across the board. Why are footballers suddenly the scapegoats?—AP