Health Secretary Matt Hancock has hailed the “big-hearted decision” from Premier League stars to create their “Players Together” fund for the NHS.
The footballers confirmed on Wednesday night that they have joined forces to launch the initiative which aims to raise funds for NHS charities during the coronavirus pandemic.
Top-flight professionals have come under fire after some clubs placed non-playing staff on the Government’s furlough scheme, with health secretary Hancock last week calling for Premier League players to take a pay cut.
Premier League clubs proposed wage cuts of around 30 per cent to ease the financial burden caused by the crisis but talks over the weekend with the Professional Footballers’ Association and the League Managers Association failed to reach a resolution.
However they released a collective statement on Wednesday, in which they announced the launch of the fund which has already raised £4million.
And Hancock said on Twitter : “Warmly welcome this big-hearted decision from so many Premier League footballers to create #PlayersTogether to support NHS Charities. You are playing your part.”
The statement, which was posted by a number of Premier League players including England captain Harry Kane, said: “We can confirm that after extensive conversations between a huge number of players from all Premier League clubs we have created our own collective player initiative, PlayersTogether, and have partnered with NHS Charities Together (NHSCT) in order to assist them in generating and distributing funds quickly and efficiently to where they are needed most.”
Former England and United defender Rio Ferdinand told BT Sport: “Players should be trusted in situations like this to make the right call.
“I think the players were treated unfairly. They tried to push them into a corner to make a decision and the decision was made by other people on their behalf which I think was so unfair.
“The players are big enough and old enough and they all earn great money in the Premier League now and they have a right to make that money go where they see fit.
“I think they have made a great call with the frontline of the NHS, servicing those people who are serving the communities that we are all from.”