LONDON - Ryanair's chief executive has slammed the UK government's demand for big firms to reveal executive pay ratios – while claiming he is "seriously underpaid" compared with Premiership footballers.
New laws are expected to be introduced to force almost 1,000 listed companies to publish and explain the ratio between the pay of their highest earner and that of their average UK employee. Ryanair will not be affected because it is an Irish company. But Michael O'Leary told journalists in London that the Prime Minister's plan to get tough on boardroom pay was "nonsensical".
"It's typical of a Government that has no fucking leadership and no idea where it's going," he said. "As Brexit lurches from one crisis to the next, the best she [Theresa May] can do is bugger off to Japan for three days."
Referring to the salary of the chief executive of WPP, he said: "Do you think [Sir] Martin Sorrell gives a shite if WPP are on some bad-boys list? His pay package gets huge publicity every year anyway.If Mrs May is really serious about excessive pay, why isn't she taking on Premiership footballers? If you can have Wayne Rooney getting £300,000 a week, and Sanchez on £400,000 a week, I'm seriously underpaid. I don't score as many goals as they do but I employ a lot more people and I make a much bigger contribution to the UK economy."
The latest Ryanair annual report shows that, in the financial year just ended, Mr O'Leary earned €3.258m (£3m). The average pay of the Ryanair employees, as calculated by The
Independent, was €51,000 (£47,000), though many workers are not directly employed by the airline.
"My view of shareholders voting against my pay package is: if you don't like it, don't vote against it – sell your shares and fuck off," he said.
Mr O'Leary also owns 50 million shares in Ryanair, which are currently worth more than £800m.