EVERYONE must "step up and share the pain" inflicted on football by the coronavirus pandemic, Football Association chairman Greg Clarke has said.

Clarke's comments come as talks continue between Premier League and English Football League clubs and the players' union, the Professional Footballers' Association, over player wage deferrals and cuts.

The FA announced on Monday that its top earners were taking a 30 per cent pay cut, with other members of senior management taking a 15 per cent cut.

Clarke told the FA Council yesterday: "Football faces economic challenges beyond the wildest imagination of those who run it.

"The pandemic will be followed by its economic consequences and all business sectors will suffer.

"We face the danger of losing clubs and leagues as finances collapse. Many communities could lose the clubs at their heart, with little chance of resurrection.

"In the face of this unprecedented adversity, all the stakeholders within the game, from players, fans, clubs, owners and administrators, need to step up and share the pain to keep the game alive."

Premier League clubs agreed last Friday that they would consult with players over conditional reductions and deferrals up to 30 per cent, to offset the potential and actual losses caused by the pandemic.

The EFL is also negotiating with the PFA, for what is understood to be an even higher percentage of deferral. The PFA wants each club's need to make the savings to be assessed on an individual basis.

Two EFL clubs - Sunderland and Crewe - announced yesterday that they were furloughing playing staff.

Businesses can place employees whose jobs have been affected by the pandemic on furlough leave, and claim 80 per cent of their salaries up to a maximum of £2,500 a month, via the Government's coronavirus job retention scheme.

Sunderland said in a statement they had "no intention" of asking players or coaching staff to defer wages or accept a cut, and were committed to ensuring all staff were paid in full by topping up salaries.

Liverpool and Tottenham, the Premier League's two most profitable clubs in 2018-19, attracted widespread criticism for their furloughing of non-playing staff, though Liverpool have since performed a U-turn.

The worst financial hit to the game would come if the 2019-20 season cannot be completed, because broadcasters would look to be reimbursed for rights to matches that did not go ahead.

Clarke said everyone in the English professional game remained committed to doing that, but admitted it may not be possible.

"We are committed to finishing the professional football season, as this resolves the issues of promotion and relegation, together with title winners, on merit," he added.

"However, we may not be able to finish the season as football is not our priority, human life is, and we will do as the Government directs as the pandemic unfolds."