Taylor insists players are 'not stupid' over coronavirus pay cuts, brands Hancock 'astonishing'

Gordon Taylor insists Premier League players are not stupid in the row over pay cuts amid the coronavirus pandemic and described the intervention by health secretary Matt Hancock as "astonishing".

Hancock last week urged top-flight players in England to do their part and doubled down on his comments in an interview on Sunday.

Wayne Rooney, Gary Neville and Gary Lineker have been among the high-profile figures stating it is unfair for footballers to be singled out during the debate over salary reductions.

Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) chief executive Taylor was shocked by Hancock's comments and insists players are simply demanding clarification on where any money they sacrifice will go.

His comments came after the PFA pointed out the loss of tax contributions that will occur if players agree with the Premier League's proposal for a 30 per cent pay cut.

Taylor told the Telegraph: "I found it astonishing that Matt Hancock could come out like that when he's got his own issues with trying to get the necessary protective health equipment for our NHS workers and didn't have the tests in place either.

"I think if the clubs can't do that [provide details on where the money will go] and explain the position fully then they have every right to expect players to mistrust what is happening."

On whether players were concerned about that point specifically, Taylor added: "Exactly that. They want the complete due diligence. They're not stupid. They've not just got their brains in their feet. They want to know the reasons for it and where it's going."

The financial repercussions of the enforced break in the 2019-20 campaign continue to dominate headlines as the battle to contain the spread of Covid-19 looks set to rage on for the next few months.

Liverpool announced their decision to place some of their non-playing staff on furlough last week, which has drawn criticism from a number of supporters and experts.

Ex-Reds duo Jamie Carragher and Dietmar Hammann have been among those to voice their disapproval, with the former claiming that the club have lost all "respect and goodwill".

Meanwhile, Manchester City released a short statement on Sunday to reassure their staff that they will not be taking the same drastic steps as Liverpool.

The statement read: "We remain determined to protect our people, their jobs and our business, whilst at the same time doing what we can to support our wider community at this most challenging time for everybody."