‘Out of order’ - City chief Webber reflects on ‘sad’ week for football
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Stuart Webber insists any stick aimed at Norwich City or their players is wide of the mark as football tries to deal with the financial impact of the coronavirus shutdown.
City’s decision to furlough some members of staff earlier this week, and the on going focus on the issue of player wage deferrals right across the Premier League, and beyond, has brought criticism from politicians and the wider public.
The Canaries’ playing staff instigated a pledge to donate £200,000 to individuals and charities affected by the global pandemic.
While talks continue this weekend with the PFA and key stakeholders, after the Premier League confirmed on Friday there is a move to agree a 30% reduction in wages through a ‘combination of conditional reductions and deferrals’.
Webber, speaking to City fan Jake Humphrey on BT Sport on Saturday, feels football is an easy target.
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“I can see both sides of the argument,” he said. “What we have seen this week is an attack on players, which is extremely unfair. It is not their fault they are waiting for clubs or the Premier League to make some decisions.
“The reason we furloughed our staff is we have been told, by the government, like everyone else that staff cannot work at this time. The staff who can work from home continue to work from home. Every member of staff has had their wages topped up so no one loses out at this point.
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“When that government initiative came in, for a self-funded club like ourselves, we are extremely grateful. In terms of the players, the last meeting before the Premier League one (on Friday) was two weeks ago. Now action has been taken to try and reach a collective agreement and that will go on for a few days yet.
“Some of the venom towards football and footballers has felt like points scoring and a bit out of order, if I am honest. It has been a sad week for football.”
Webber made it clear the financial ramifications for Norwich are serious, in the wake of a statement released by top flight rivals Burnley mapping out a £50m shortfall for the Clarets - in terms of matchday revenue and broadcast payments - should the season not be completed.
“I can only talk about our club and we have had some difficult days. And those will continue,” he said. “It is like any other business. You get a certain amount of income and you spend it. Football clubs are criticised if they don’t spend and have money in the bank but when income dries up the club gets criticised.
“It is a very hard time but we have to stick together as clubs and a community because one thing we can guarantee is the whole country is missing football. But it is a myth to suggest football is full of money.”