(Reuters) - Premier League footballers were unfairly asked by the British government to take a paycut during the coronavirus outbreak when hedge-fund managers and bankers were not subjected to similar demands, players' union chief Gordon Taylor has said.
Britain's Health Minister Matt Hancock sparked a debate last week when he said Premier League players must "play their part" and take a pay cut while the league was suspended so that the clubs' non-playing staff are not furloughed.
Taylor, head of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), defended the players and accused the government of unfairly singling out footballers when other well-paid professions escaped their scrutiny.
"I find it quite extraordinary that government doesn't realise - and it should do because of what the game puts back into the economy - the money that football spends on its community initiatives, the tax it pays," Taylor said on beIN SPORTS' Keys & Gray Show.
"And just to highlight footballers when there are many other sportsmen, bankers, hedge funds -- I could give you a long list of people in jobs for life whose income is more.
"Footballers have reached the top of a mountain that has took a long, long time to climb and they get what they deserve."
Premier League players, facing pressure to accept wage cuts during the outbreak, have since launched a fund -- their own collective player initiative -- to raise money for National Health Service (NHS) charities to help tackle the crisis.
Taylor himself has donated 500,000 pounds ($619,350) to the players' fund while members of the PFA executive team made a separate one million pound donation.
Taylor said footballers' careers are short, with an average span of eight years, and even though players were willing to give up some of their income, they did not want to let club owners keep it.
"It's not as though football is a job for life, and if we can save their income, then we will do," Taylor added.
"If the situation does become worse (and the season is cancelled), then they will agree that they are part of a solution to overcome that.
"Premier League players felt that they were being put into a corner, particularly by government. They also saw the irony that even if they took a pay cut... that money would be lost to the government... and that would be counterproductive."
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)