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Pro football league prepares guideline on player pay cuts

All News 18:02 August 19, 2020

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Aug. 19 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean professional football league said Wednesday it has prepared a guideline on possible reduction of player salaries during the pandemic-hit season.

The Korea Professional Football League (K League) is the first pro sports organization in the country to openly discuss player pay cuts.

The league's board of directors on Wednesday approved the proposal by the league office on ways to cut player salaries to help address financial problems for clubs.

This image provided by the Korea Professional Football League (K League) on Aug. 12, 2020, shows its emblem. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The K League said the proposal would not affect players in the lower-income bracket and players on Sangju Sangmu, a team made up of conscripted players doing their military service. It said players with the base salary of at least 36 million won (US$30,520), 477 out of 743 non-military players, will be subject to potential pay cuts.

The league has proposed to cut 10 percent on the amount that exceeds the 36 million won base salary over the final four months of the year.

The K League insisted that its proposal is exactly that, and clubs will not be allowed to unilaterally cut pay without consent from their players.

"We've come up with the guideline so that everyone could work together to overcome the adversity that we're facing this season," a league official said. "Teams will now be speaking with individual players and reworking contracts for players who agree to take pay cuts."

The official added that the league and clubs discussed reducing the salary for the entire season, but they ultimately decided it would put too much burden on players.

This file photo from Aug. 14, 2020, shows a K League 1 match between Seongnam FC and Busan IPark at Tancheon Sports Complex in Seongnam, just south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

The 12 teams in the top-flight K League 1 and the 10 teams in the K League 2 have been experiencing financial problems all year. The start of the season was pushed back by more than two months from Feb. 29 to May 8 due to the coronavirus outbreak, and the season has been shortened from 38 matches to 27 matches. Teams have played most of the season without fans, limiting their gate revenue to close to zero.

Stadiums opened back up on Aug. 1 but the majority of the teams have shut them down again since the weekend, in light of a recent surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide.

In April, a few weeks before the opening kickoff, the K League had estimated that its 22 clubs would see their revenues fall by a combined 57.5 billion won. The actual loss will certainly come out to be higher at the end of the season.

The players' union, Korea Pro-Footballer's Association (KPFA), and the K League opened talks on the salary situation in April but they couldn't come to any agreement, prompting the league to produce its own guideline.

This image provided by the Korea Pro-Footballer's Association on April 17, 2020, shows the organization's logo. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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