David Haythornthwaite says any refusal by footballers to take a pay cut is “outrageous” and the AFC Fylde owner will not continue to fund his club at the current level in future.
The Coasters chairman believes it is “morally wrong” for him to reduce wages, furlough, or lose staff in his other business ventures while continuing to pay players in full.
Describing players’ pay as “the elephant in the room” in the discussions about football’s response to coronavirus, Haythornthwaite explained wages account for almost all of a club’s expenditure at a time of minimal income.
As part of a series of video interviews for the club’s website, he said: “In the month after our last match against Aldershot on March 14 we paid out £115,000.
“A League One chief executive told me that in the same period, he paid out £440,000 and had an income of £347. And it’s all wages.
“What we’ve paid out is a huge amount with zero income, except for a couple of hundred quid from selling shirts.
“Ninety per cent of that £115,000 is wages and that’s the reality. If we have nine months of this, it’s a million quid someone will have to find, and there’s only one person who will have to find it at this club.
“I’ve therefore had to make difficult decisions, and one of them is that I’m not going to support the football club at the level I have before.
“It’s morally wrong to ask my managers in my real business to take pay cuts, furlough people, or terminate some while I fund a football club and pay every player full wages.”
Haythornthwaite explained that any attempt to cut a player’s wages could result in the club losing that player for breach of contract.
He added: “This is something no-one wants to talk about. It’s a famous elephant in the room.
“Players aren’t taking pay cuts, because if they do, the clause in their contract can be exercised which says the club have acted unreasonably.
“That allows you to tear up your contract and find a new club as a free agent.
“That’s the problem – you can’t get a consensus from owners working together to solve this problem because everyone is only interested in their own club.
“There will be players who will rip up their contracts because clubs can’t afford them.
“A lot of clubs see this turmoil as an opportunity. They are almost scavengers picking off the dead body.
“I saw one League One club say that, if they have to rip up all their contracts and start again, they will.
“That’s the real situation. It’s no different at our club – we’re just talking different levels of wages.”