Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar and Ligue 1's other top-earning players face large salary cuts as French football seeks relief from the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, sources have confirmed to ESPN.
The virus has decimated sport, with football seasons across the world suspended indefinitely. In France, the refusal of Canal+ and beIN Sports to pay television rights money this month has hit the finances of all professional French clubs, while Bordeaux's sponsor has suspended their contract altogether.
According to ESPN sources, after discussions between France's National Union of Professional Football Players (UNFP) and the Ministry of Economy and Finance, an agreement was reached to recommend a temporary reduction of salaries to professional players and clubs.
Players earning between €10,000-€20,000 a month after partial unemployment would take a 20% cut, explained ESPN sources, with those on €20,000-€50,000 at 30%, those on €50,000-€100,000 at 40% and €100,000 or over -- including Ligue 1's top earner Neymar -- at 50%.
Partial unemployment, which means players earn roughly 70% of their usual wage, has enabled state money to aid the most vulnerable clubs, but it will not hold for the foreseeable future with no return date set.
"The idea is that the players defer part of their April salaries to allow the clubs to get by," UNFP president Philippe Piat told Agence France Presse earlier this week, before calling it "a temporary effort" due to the "urgent health situation."
As part of the UNFP and Ministry of Economy and Finance's recommendation, the wage reduction amount would depend on the player's earnings and those earning less than €10,000 per month after partial unemployment would be unaffected.
"We cannot force anyone to join," Piat said. "A large majority will not go against it. We advise them all to accept it as it will save jobs. Without this, the profession will suffer."
The recommendation has been put to the clubs and players, which would see their outstanding salaries settled once the TV rights money from Canal+ and beIN Sports has been released -- potentially the end of the coronavirus lockdown.
Many of Ligue 1's highest earners are PSG players, with ESPN sources confirming the club is negotiating with its players to accept the temporary cuts.