'I know there is pressure on players, but it is nobody's business what you do with your wages. You take your wages and if you want to be generous, go ahead and do it'
Players at the Premier League's top clubs should "stick to their guns" and resist pressure to take pay cuts during the COVID-19 shutdown, ex-Manchester United captain Roy Keane said on Friday.
Professional soccer in England has been suspended since March 13 due to the pandemic and some Premier League clubs have furloughed non-playing staff under a government scheme.
Players at some clubs have accepted wage deferrals while Arsenal's players and coaching staff agreed a 12.5% salary reduction.
"The way I look at it now, particularly after the way I left Manchester United, I wouldn't take a pay cut from anybody if I was at one of the bigger clubs," Keane told Sky Sports television.
"I know there is pressure on players, but it is nobody's business what you do with your wages. You take your wages and if you want to be generous, go ahead and do it.
"I don't think players should feel pressured by clubs, particularly the bigger clubs, to take pay cuts," added the former Ireland midfielder, who left United in 2005 in strained circumstances.
Keane said a player's individual contract was a personal matter between him and the club and it was nonsense to suggest all should do the same.
He added that it was always made clear to him when negotiating deals that it was a business.
"When the clubs with billionaire owners in the background come to the players and say they are in trouble -- no, no, you honour the contract," he said.
"This idea that we should be getting players to give up their wages at these big clubs, forget about it because these clubs are the first to tell you, 'This is a business, lads, this is how it works'."
Former United and England defender Gary Neville repeated a call for the Premier League to come up with a package to help clubs in the lower divisions survive.
"I've gone from opportunity, to despair, to almost now pleading with somebody at the Premier League just to do the right thing for the game," he said.
"Why am I on calls with chairmen and owners of EFL League Two (fourth-tier) clubs who are desperate, who don't know how to pay their next wages, they are worried the clubs are going to go bust for the sake of a few million pounds?"
'Clubs will not splurge on transfers when football resumes'
Manchester United chief executive Ed Woodward says clubs will not spend "hundreds of millions" when signing new players in the transfer window as they will be mindful of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Woodward said it would be a challenging time in the market and it may not be "business as usual" for clubs, including United, when they look for new recruits.
"We need visibility of the impact across the whole industry, including timings of the transfer window and the wider financial picture, before we can talk about a return to normality," Woodward said in a United fans forum on Friday.
"On this basis, I cannot help feeling that speculation around transfers of individual players for hundreds of millions of pounds this summer seems to ignore the realities that face the sport."
Tottenham Hotspur defender Jan Vertonghen said earlier this week that free agents will be coveted more than others during the transfer window as clubs look to rebound from the financial crisis.
Woodward said he hoped the season could be completed with fifth-placed United pushing for Champions League qualification and still in contention in the Europa League and FA Cup.
A return to action in the Premier League is not expected until May at the earliest but Woodward said the first few games when the league resumes may be played without fans in attendance.
"While it may be that games need to be played behind closed doors in the shorter term, we all recognise that football will not be fully back to normal until supporters are once again in attendance," Woodward added.
"We are pushing ahead with a series of initiatives to enhance the matchday experience at Old Trafford, including... the planned trial of rail seating, and the completion of our expanded state-of-the-art facilities for disabled supporters.
"These matters pale in comparison with the immediate priority of fighting coronavirus. But they give us things to look forward to when we are eventually allowed back to Old Trafford to watch football."