Emergency and disaster appeals often elicit similar calls for certain groups to give, or for providers to charge less. The appeals on behalf of NHS staff and all charities affected by the coronavirus pandemic are no different.
The first stock section of society that attracted public attention was professional footballers, specifically Premier League footballers.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested that they should donate a portion of their wages. He even specified that they should then direct these not to charities of their choice but to ‘struggling hospices’.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has called on Premier League footballers to donate a portion of their wages to struggling hospices, writes @DanielHewittITVhttps://t.co/9vbB2A1lcP pic.twitter.com/QbIjicHcb3
— ITV News (@itvnews) April 5, 2020
Such generic calls are odd. Hectoring a specific profession and not others is seldom an effective fundraising tool. It smacks of choosing an easy target, ignores existing giving and different charitable interests by said footballers, and perhaps of playing to the gallery in a crisis.
Of course, all wealthy individuals might be encouraged to join in their support of current appeals, but to single out one profession is fundraising at the level of “why don’t you ask Bill Gates to donate to your charity?” or, from my early days in fundraising, “why don’t you get Sting to put on a concert for you?”
Coming from a member of a Cabinet consisting almost exclusively of multi-millionaires the focus on professional footballers rings a little hollow too.
Nevertheless journalist Robert Peston backed the idea:
Rather than giving money back to Premier League clubs with pay cuts, wouldn’t it be better if players donate those millions to services in frontline of helping us through the #COVID19 crisis. Many hospices are in dire financial straights. Come on football, do what you can to help
— Robert Peston (@Peston) April 5, 2020
Former political adviser Alastair Campbell called this out as simple populism:
What about bankers? Lawyers? Film stars? F1 drivers? TV presenters? This is the worst form of populism. And there will come a point where government is going to have to save smaller clubs. So STFU and do the day job @MattHancock https://t.co/bVVv1mYjFM
— ALASTAIR CAMPBELL (@campbellclaret) April 5, 2020
Wayne Rooney responded, pointing out that the suggestion was not made in good grace:
Wayne Rooney, nailing it. pic.twitter.com/pfrLhZlWp1
— Jake Gallagher (@MatchoftheDave) April 5, 2020
And was met, not unexpectedly, with a negative news story the very next morning in the Daily Mail:
Wayne Rooney 'is told off by police for breaking lockdown rules by meeting fellow player Kyle Walker' https://t.co/ukVzhA7jIF
— Daily Mail U.K. (@DailyMailUK) April 6, 2020
Footballers who have given
Needless to say, footballers and Premier League players, do give to charity in various ways, and have given in response to the coronavirus crisis.
Gary Neville made available the two hotels he part-owns with former Manchester United team-mate Ryan Giggs to NHS workers free of charge.
— Hotel Football (@hotelfootballuk) March 18, 2020
Joe Cole and his wife have set up a charity and provided support to NHS staff.
Joe Cole and his wife have set up a charity. 300k raised.
– Bought 50 3D printers to print thousands of medical visors for frontline NHS staff.
– Sent nutritious food direct to hospital staff.
– providing childcare to NHS staff
– offering therapy to NHS staff
What a guy 👏👏
— Jake Humphrey (@mrjakehumphrey) April 4, 2020
Jordan Henderson fronted “a huge group of players” from the Premier League who have created #PlayersTogether, an initiative to partner with and support NHS Charities Together.
— Jordan Henderson (@JHenderson) April 8, 2020
— footainment (@F00tainment) April 16, 2020
Other players are calling for support for other charities beyond the NHS Charities Together campaign:
The #PlayersTogether campaign is wonderful but unfortunately doesn't cover Hospices. Carl wants to raise £1M to cover funds lost from cancelled events. See his latest message below. https://t.co/xJnIBOWmDR
— East Cheshire Hospice (@ECHospice) April 16, 2020
Calling supporters under lockdown
Footballers can give in other ways too.
Staff, current and past players at Stoke City are calling supporters to encourage them and counter their isolation under lockdown.
The football club is owned by the Coates family. The Denise Coates Foundation has donated £10 million to help staff and patients at Royal Stoke and the County Hospital.
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