The coronavirus pandemic has brought the world to a standstill. The impact of the deadly virus has been far-reaching and has had an adverse effect on people from every walk of life. The world of sports has also been hard-hit by the pandemic, with almost every major sporting event getting suspended or called off entirely due to its effect.
The same has applied for the English Premier League as well. One of the most followed football competitions across the world, the Premier League was suspended in March, with a resumption eyed at the end of this month. However, given the ever-changing landscape, the English top-flight has been pushed back indefinitely.
The impact of the suspension has forced the clubs into drastic measures as they look to maintain financial stability in these challenging times.
Some of the Premier League teams have made the hard call to enforce a pay cut on their non-playing staff while some have decided to place their staff on furlough due to the coronavirus crisis, taking advantage of a scheme announced by the UK government. This has become quite a major talking point over the past few days.
What is the furlough scheme?
The UK government, last month, announced that it will be paying the wages of workers across Britain to keep them in jobs as the economic fallout from the pandemic escalated rapidly.
According to this scheme, the government will cover up to 80% of the salary of workers up to a maximum of £2500 per month, as long as their employers kept them on their payroll and not lay them off amid the crisis.
This scheme, that would cost the government around £78 billion, was brought in to provide security to millions of workers whose employment had been jeopardized by the coronavirus pandemic.
Mainly directed to benefit small industries/companies that had no way to keep paying their staff amid these times when the entire country is in lockdown, Premier League clubs are now taking advantage of this scheme by putting their non-playing staff on furlough, placing the onus on the government to cover their salaries.
Which Premier League clubs have put the non-playing staff on furlough?
Newcastle United were the first Premier League club to declare that they were putting all their non-playing staff on furlough. The announcement was made last Monday with the Magpies’ scouts, academy workers and staff employed by their charitable foundation all furloughed.
A day later, Tottenham Hotspur followed suit, announcing that the club had reduced the wages of as many as 550 non-football staff by 20%, in some cases by placing them on furlough. This announcement came at a time after it had been revealed that club chairman Daniel Levy had earned £4 million plus a £3 million bonus in the last financial year, sparking great controversy.
Bournemouth were next in line, as they placed around 50 of their non-playing staff on furlough, that included employees in marketing and hospitality departments. The Cherries’ manager Eddie Howe, his assistant Jason Tindall, technical director Richard Hughes, and chief executive Neill Blake have all taken voluntary pay cuts.
Relegation contenders Norwich City have also furloughed all of their full-time non-playing staff, using the government's employment retention scheme. The Canaries are supplementing the furlough payment through ensuring that the staff continue to receive the equivalent of their full salaries.
Premier League leaders Liverpool became the latest club to use the scheme to put the non-playing staff on temporary leave. The announcement came this Saturday with the Reds also supplementing the furlough payment to ensure that the employees continued to receive 100% of their salaries.
Amidst all this, Manchester City became the first Premier League club to confirm that none of their staff will be placed on furlough.
Reaction to PL Clubs furloughing staff
The move by some of the clubs to utilize the government’s scheme to support smaller enterprises in challenging times has drawn widespread criticism. Especially with the clubs continuing to pay their footballers in full, despite no matches being played for almost a month.
“I can’t believe it. Surely players should be taking a cut. This [furlough] isn’t for big clubs like Tottenham," former Spurs boss Harry Redknapp said.
Liverpool have been targeted the most as only last month the club had announced that it had posted increased revenues of £553 million for the last financial year. It has also emerged that the Reds had paid £43 million to football agents since.
“All respect & goodwill is lost,” former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher wrote on social media. “Contrary to the morals and values of the club I got to know,” former Reds midfielder Didi Hamann said on the issue.