Premier League footballers have announced the launch of a new charity fund, #PlayersTogether, which will gather donations for NHS Charities Together in an effort to help tackle the coronavirus.
Captains from each of the 20 Premier League clubs have been in talks discussing how best to tackle the issue as Great Britain’s National Health Service comes under heavy strain because of the pandemic.
England team-mates Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire—captains of Liverpool and Manchester United, respectively—helped announce the new initiative on Wednesday:
Player donations have been a heated topic since the United Kingdom’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, told reporters Premier League footballers should “take a pay cut” to help the issue.
Those comments were widely criticised for placing undue pressure on athletes to contribute. Former England and Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney was among those to lambast Hancock, calling the government’s approach “a disgrace” in his Sunday Times column.
NHS Charities Together (NHSCT) is an umbrella organisation made up of more than 150 registered NHS charities:
David Hytner and Nick Ames of the Guardian wrote Troy Deeney and Mark Noble—who captain Watford and West Ham United, respectively—will act as fund administrators alongside Henderson and Maguire.
#PlayersTogether will aim to raise £4 million for the NHS and is wary of the fact “some earn rather more than others,” while also being mindful of the fact many foreign players will prefer to direct donations towards those affected in their home countries.
The new charitable fund has drawn widespread praise from football figures and journalists alike, such as Match of the Day’s Gary Lineker and Greg Johnson of Football.London:
Contributions from #PlayersTogether will go “quickly and efficiently to where they are needed most.” The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) said the proposed 30 percent pay-cut for Premier League players would actually lose £500 million over a 12-month period, meaning the government—and in turn, the NHS—would see at least £200 million less in tax contributions.
On the same day #PlayersTogether was announced, Common Goal—a football charity founded in partnership with United and Spain star Juan Mata—confirmed a COVID-19 response fund to help donate funds but also player resources towards fighting the pandemic.