Punching Up Or Kicking Down?

Dan Hall
9 min readApr 12, 2020

Why Premier League footballers were the only group in the entertainment industry ordered to “do their bit” during the Coronavirus crisis

Jordan Henderson, Liverpool captain and reportedly the main organiser of the #PlayersTogether initiative for donations to the NHS during the Coronavirus crisis (Image: Getty)

The Coronavirus pandemic is a crisis with catastrophic consequences for public health, society, and the economy; this much has become abundantly clear since March 2020. The secondary impacts on the livelihoods of millions of people in the country, not to mention the demand for resources for a fragile National Health Service (NHS), will be felt for some time. We are all having to make some kind of sacrifice, whether that is simply restricting ourselves to the confines of our own homes, losing our jobs, or even losing loved ones. The government is having to expend monumental sums of money to hold the economy together, and the NHS is crying out for more equipment and cash. With all of this considered, should the richest people in this country be asked to pay more and do their bit for the greater good? I would argue yes, absolutely.

As such, perhaps it makes sense that the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, argued that Premier League footballers should “take a pay cut and play their part”, and that “Given the sacrifices many people are making, the first thing PL footballers can do is make a contribution” in the government’s daily Coronavirus press briefing on 2nd April. After all, with average salaries exceeding £60,000 per week, top-flight footballers must be some of the country’s wealthiest, right?

Well, no. A quick glance at the figures shows that even the most illustrious names in English football are nowhere near the most wealthy people in the country; Sergio Aguero was named as the division’s wealthiest player in the Sunday Times Rich List 2019, with his £250k per week salary and lucrative sponsorship deals giving him a net worth of £58 million. The number one position in the rich list, meanwhile, went to Sri and Gopi Hinduja and family, who have a worth of £22 billion — approximately 380 times the worth of the Manchester City striker. In fact, Aguero is far from the wealthiest person at his club; this, of course, is the owner, Sheikh Mansour, who has a net worth of approximatey £18 billion. Incidentally, two Premier League club owners make the 2019 Rich List — Alisher Usmanov (Arsenal) and Roman Abromavich (Chelsea). Of course, this is not to belittle the exorbitant sums of…

Dan Hall

Oxford Geography graduate, now at UCL; Geography, Politics and Football, in no particular order…