Leaked WhatsApp message - full transcript of explosive call that could shape Portsmouth's season
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The News has obtained a copy of the voice message reportedly sent by Bristol Rovers representative Alex Rodman to his teammates, in which he explains the latest details of an EFL call which he was privy to.
Rodman is one of a number of player representatives liasing with the EFL, the PFA, club owners and ex-England star, Sky Sports pundit and part-owner of League Two side Salford City Gary Neville – who is acting as a bridge between the PFA and players during the current crisis.
And after their most recent call earlier this week, Rodman sent a voice message to his fellow squad members in a bid to update them on the current situation and the EFL’s plans – which include requiring 66,000 coronavirus tests, the revelation that the EFL doesn't expect fans to return to grounds until 2021, and an admission that the season may not be concluded.
The voice message was quickly leaked and spread throughout clubs and the media, with various aspects reported. Bristol Rovers are understood to be investigating the source of the leak.
And now, we can reveal word-for-word exactly what was said in the explosive voice message.
Scroll down for a full transcript of Rodman’s leaked recording:
‘So I’ve just come off the call for the last meeting.
‘Basically, I need a vote off everyone about severance pay in our contracts. You’ve heard a few of the things that have happened in it, I just need a yes or no from everyone which I’ll explain in this now.
‘Basically, the government guidance on May 7th when they talk about the lockdown is going to be dictating when we come back in, what they say will be based off what the government say.
‘The chief executive of the EFL said it would be very optimistic to even be playing games in June, so he doesn’t really think we’ll be playing games then.
'Gary Neville and one of the other club owners doesn’t even think we’ll be playing anywhere near then.
‘We definitely won’t be playing any games with fans – that’s come from the EFL – this year, they don’t think. We’ll be looking at January 2021 unless a cure pops up.
‘They’d need 66,000 tests for us to finish the season. Given the NHS are struggling for tests and general people are struggling up to now for tests, from a PR point of view I don’t think any of the football bosses could sell footballers needing to finish a season with that many tests. Unless that changes drastically, they’re talking about us not getting the season finished and the season being decided on sporting merit.
‘So three promotions from every league. The Premiership would have another three clubs and it would filter down the pyramid. No relegations, and that would obviously have to be absorbed the season after so there’d be more relegations etc etc.
‘The owners of football clubs legally have to provide a safe working environment for their employees, and if we are still being told to social distance how we can run around and tackle and what have you and everything to play football… unless we’re doing weekly tests, a lot of people on the call can’t see the season finishing.
‘Who knows what will happen there.
‘The most important thing is that they said player welfare was the priority, and one of the most important things is the contract situation.
'Legally, they can’t enforce clubs to extend our contracts so if people are out of contract on June 30, you would get your July severance pay.
'FIFA are going to release something advising clubs, but the general consensus from clubs is that they have told the EFL that they won’t be paying clubs extra or extending contracts because they can’t afford it.
‘Whether that becomes a full-blown blanket agreement or it’s done individually, I don’t know. I’d imagine it would be one or the other – all clubs will do it, or they won’t. It won’t be done individually because some clubs won’t be able to play.
‘The issue is with the severance pay, if our season was to go into July then if you were out of contract – and obviously this doesn’t apply to some lads because they’ve got a contract for next year anyway – if you are out of contract and our season ran into July and we knew our contracts wouldn’t be extended, would you be willing to play through July knowing you wouldn’t be paid severance pay for the month of August? And would you play knowing you weren’t getting another contract for next year?
'Obviously our severance pay when our contracts run out in June is for July, and it’s there to protect you in case you don’t get another club for the next season.
‘If you were playing through July and knew you would finish at the end of July, and then from the first week of August you weren’t going to be compensated by the club, would you be willing to play?
‘They want to know roughly figures of lads, yes or no, so they can take it back to the clubs and inform them.
'A lot of clubs have said they will categorically not pay past that date. I don’t know what ours have said, but some of the club owners on the call have said they categorically will not pay that – but if a lot of the players have said they won’t play, then maybe that will force their hand.’