By Eddie Chikamhi
Zimbabwe international Marvelous Nakamba will forgo about £55 000, the equivalence of his weekly wage, as part of measures taken by his English Premiership side to combat the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Nakamba and his fellow Aston Villa first-team players, coaches and senior management agreed at the weekend to take a 25 percent pay cut, over the next four months, to ease the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the club.
Zimbabweans playing in South Africa are facing even bigger challenges with a possibility of the likes of Talent Chawapihwa and Butholezwe Ncube getting as much as a 50 percent salary cut if their club AmaZulu go ahead with the plans.
Local players also face the same predicament as clubs have raised the red flag following the delay in the start of the 2020 season.
The coronavirus lockdown has heavily impacted on the football industry and Nakamba, who earns around £220 000 per month under a five-year deal with Villa, is among the first foreign-based Zimbabwe internationals to be affected.
The latest development means the Hwange-born star will have to forego at least £55 000, equivalent of his weekly wage, for the next four months, hoping that the situation normalises.
The move by the Villa players and staff was driven from the need to see non-playing staff being retained and paid in full at a time when fellow clubs were sending their staff home or on forced leave.
Arsenal’s first team players have agreed to a 12.5 percent pay cut while Liverpool, Tottenham and Bournemouth reversed their decisions to furlough staff.
Newcastle United were the first club to place their non-playing staff on temporary leave and Norwich have also put staff on the job retention scheme.
The English Premiership is currently suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak and the leadership is set to meet again on May 1, with the government being pushed to finish the current campaign behind closed doors.
According to reports by BirminghamLive, the move by Villa does not mean Nakamba and his colleagues have forfeited their wages, but they are essentially helping the club cut costs right now. They could get their money, at a later stage, in the event the situation improves.
However, there is also the complexity of a possible Villa relegation, which would then force the club to downsize its financial outlay, and reduce the pay packets of its players.
Villa could be relegated in the event the Premiership clubs decide to end the season, without any match being played, with the final places done according to a complex calculation exercise.
“What Villa’s senior staff are all doing is taking a temporary 25 percent cut in wages for four months up until August.
“It means their September salaries should be, in effect, double their usual pay-days.
“The club aren’t gaining any significant income due to the Premier League suspension and, in order to keep jobs, players, coaching staff and highest-earners have all come together to support those at the lower-end of the pay scale.” Villa are owned by the NSWE group, a company owned by the Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris and the American tycoon Wes Edens.
Edens along with Nassef Sawiris, bought the club from Tony Xia in 2018, helping Villa stave off the imminent threat of administration.
After winning promotion into the English Premiership in May of last year, the two billionaires bankrolled a transfer window spree of almost £150m to give manager Dean Smith a side capable of competing in the Premier League.
They also brought Nakamba from Club Brugge in Belgium in a £11 million deal, the most ever paid for a Zimbabwean footballer. Villa’s chief executive Christian Purslow said the move to defer portion of salaries will help the club continue to run smoothly on a day-to-day basis.
“First-team players, first-team coaches and senior management have all agreed to defer 25 percent of their salaries for four months to assist the club during this period of uncertainty with a further review taking place at the end of this period.
“During the two seasons since Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens rescued Aston Villa they have supported and funded the rebuilding of the club with a huge level of personal financial investment.
“They are continuing to provide substantial funding which, combined with these significant salary deferrals, enables Aston Villa to confirm that all non-football staff — full and part time — will be retained and paid in full throughout the lockdown. There will be no furloughing of staff.
“Our players and staff feel great solidarity with the many clubs in the football pyramid who have financial problems and we believe it is right and proper that the Premier League as a whole takes action on its finances collectively to enable it to be able to continue to provide vital funding throughout the game in England,” said Purslow.
Nakamba had made 26 appearances in his debut season for manager Smith’s side before the season was suspended last month due to coronavirus outbreak.
Prior to the Premier League’s suspension Villa were struggling badly and lost four games on the trot to slip to 19th in the English Premiership table.
Villa played their last top-flight match on March 9 when they were thrashed 4-0 at Leicester City, leaving them two points adrift of safety.
However, Nakamba is waiting patiently for the Premier League action to return.
According to the BirminghamLive, the midfielder has spent many hours chatting to his coach via video link, with the gaffer showing the good and bad of his game to date.
The Zimbabwean has experienced mixed fortunes in his maiden season in England.
He has since started a foundation to help the underprivileged back home in Zimbabwe.
“In football, there are no limits, there’s no limit for room for improvement, it’s about giving everything,” explained Nakamba.
“Everyone is looking up to me. Every time I go home it’s like impossible is nothing, you just need to believe. You have the three Ds: Discipline, Dedication and Determination. They are the keys.”
But it looks like the man who brought him to England, Smith, may not be able to last long as his job is reportedly no longer secure. Smith and his players have 10 games to save themselves from relegation amid reports linking Villa with a shock interest in Burnley manager Sean Dyche. The Herald