'Pure greed': Billionaire chairman accused of 'disgraceful' act amid crisis

Daniel Levy, pictured here during the Champions League semi-final between Ajax and Tottenham in 2019.
Daniel Levy looks on during the Champions League semi-final between Ajax and Tottenham in 2019. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has been labelled ‘disgraceful’ and ‘greedy’ after announcing sweeping wage cuts at the club despite being paid $14 million last year.

Levy announced on Tuesday that 550 non-playing staff at the club will see their wages cut by 20 percent for the next two months on the same day it was revealed he was paid £7 million ($14.2 million) last season.

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Spurs accounts to June 30, 2019 revealed Levy was paid a £3 million bonus, which was due on completion of Tottenham's new 62,000 stadium, on top of his £4 million salary.

The new Tottenham Hotspur stadium opened in April last year, eight months later than scheduled and well over budget at a cost of £1 billion.

Levy is among the staff members taking a 20 percent wage cut, but called on Tottenham's players to also do so to ease the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to The Sun, some of the 550 staff have been placed on furlough, “which will allow them to claim 80 per cent of their wages from the government up to a monthly maximum of £2,500.”

Details of Levy’s bonus and the fact Tottenham owner Joe Lewis is worth a reported $8 billion have sparked condemnation from commentators.

Levy is also reported to be worth about £1 billion ($2 billion).

“It kinda stinks that a Premier League club is drawing tax payers money,” Marting Ziegler of The Times told Talk Sport Radio.

“I think that’s the wrong use of the furlough scheme, when you’ve got a business that made a £60m profit last year.”

News Corp’s Emily Benammar and Chris Godfrey of The Guardian were also highly critical, while Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail described the timing as ‘appalling’.

Daniel Levy explains wage cuts at Tottenham

Players at Barcelona, Juventus and Bayern Munich are among those to have taken either a significant wage cut or deferred payments.

Football in England is suspended until at least April 30 and a meeting of Premier League clubs on Friday is expected to push that date further back.

“Having already taken steps to reduce costs, we ourselves made the difficult decision, in order to protect jobs, to reduce the remuneration of all 550 non-playing directors and employees for April and May by 20 percent,” Levy said in a statement on the Spurs website.

“We hope the current discussions between the Premier League, PFA (Professional Footballers' Association) and LMA (League Managers Association) will result in players and coaches doing their bit for the football eco system.”

Tottenham earlier this month posted profits of £68.6 million for the year to June 2019 on the back of a run to the Champions League final and the stadium move.

Tottenham's Eric Dier, pictured here shaking hands with Daniel Levy after a Champions League match.
Tottenham's Eric Dier shakes hands with Daniel Levy after a Champions League match. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

However, Levy said those numbers bore little relevance, with the club facing a difficult period and uncertainty among sponsors and media partners.

“When I read or hear stories about player transfers this summer like nothing has happened, people need to wake up to the enormity of what is happening around us,” he added.

“We maybe the eighth-largest Club in the world by revenue according to the Deloitte survey but all that historical data is totally irrelevant as this virus has no boundaries.”

Tottenham sit eighth in the Premier League table and would therefore miss out on the riches of Champions League football for the first time in five years next season if the league were to be curtailed as it stands.

However, economic factors are behind the desire of Premier League clubs to finish the campaign, even if it means doing so behind closed doors.

According to reports, the clubs would have to reimburse broadcasters to the tune of £762 million if the season is not completed.

With Associated Press and Reuters