‘Football clubs should only be using it as a last resort’ - Culture secretary urges clubs to re-think furlough policy
PUBLISHED: 10:49 09 April 2020 | UPDATED: 10:49 09 April 2020
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The culture secretary has urged football clubs adopting the government’s furloughing scheme, like Norwich City, to ‘think carefully’ about whether they actually need it.
The Canaries decided to furlough a number of their non-playing staff last week using the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
The scheme commits to funding 80% of furloughed staff’s wages, with the football club electing to top up the extra 20% to ensure no member of staff gets left out of pocket.
Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United have also received criticism for furloughing staff despite possessing wealthy benefactors and existing in a multi-million pound industry.
Liverpool reversed their decision to make use of the scheme over the weekend, performing a U-turn following criticism from supporters.
Southampton became the first club to announce their playing staff will be deferring play to ensure non-playing staff aren’t furloughed.
Head coach Ralph Hassenhuttl, the playing staff and board of directors have agreed to a three-month pay deferral, becoming the first club in the division to announce such measures.
As a result, the Saints won’t have to place any members of staff on furlough via the government’s Job Retention Scheme.
City’s situation differs given they don’t possess the wealth of their Premier League rivals. The Canaries squad have also donated in excess of £200k to local organisations helping the community with the effects of Covid-19.
Premier League footballers announced their involvement in the #PlayersTogether scheme, which involves them donating money to the NHS frontline.
“The first thing I’d say about the whole of football is that they were the first people that came to my door during this crisis.
“They’ve really stepped up to the plate and you saw that with yesterday’s announcement. It’s one of many measures being taken to help us through this time of national crisis.
“Clubs are also commercial organisations and they can take advantage of the government’s furloughing scheme.
“I just think they need to think really carefully about whether they need to take advantage of this,” Oliver Dowden told Good Morning Britain.
“This scheme is designed for struggling businesses to make sure, if they are faced with the position where they have to make staff redundant, rather than making them redundant, they furlough them on 80% of their wages so they can bring them back when business picks up.
“Football clubs should only be using it as a last resort. I think fans and the public at large are going to take a pretty dim view if they’re using it and it isn’t in the last resort.”