Fans and former players have lined up to slam Liverpool after the English Premier League leaders announced they would be placing a number of non-playing staff on furlough leave due to the Covid-19 crisis.
The Reds announced on Saturday that they would be placing some members of staff on temporary leave during the pandemic, making use of a government scheme to cover 80 percent of their wages with the club topping up the remaining 20 percent.
“Liverpool FC has placed some staff who are impacted by the Premier League suspension on furlough,” a statement read.
“The club has confirmed those staff will be paid 100 per cent of their salaries to ensure no member of staff is financially disadvantaged.
“Last month the club also confirmed that it would pay its matchday and non-matchday staff while the Premier League is suspended.”
#LFC is continuing to deal with a range of challenges caused by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and would like to update supporters on the progress that has been made to date. https://t.co/0QAiCSVDv6
— Liverpool FC (at 🏠) (@LFC) April 4, 2020
The Anfield club have followed in the footsteps of fellow Premier League clubs Newcastle, Norwich, Tottenham Hotspur and Bournemouth in taking the step to furlough staff.
But the fact that the Reds – who announced in February that turnover had increased to £533 million (US$650 million), with pre-tax profits at £42 million – were making use of the government scheme when the coffers were seemingly so full did not sit well with many.
That included former forward Stan Collymore, who tweeted that the decision was “plain f*ckin wrong” in the circumstances.
I don’t know of any Liverpool fan of any standing that won’t be anything other than disgusted at the club for furloghing staff.It’s just plain fucking wrong.
— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) April 4, 2020
Former Liverpool defensive stalwart Jamie Carragher said it was a “poor” step from the Merseyside giants owned by US investors Fenway Sports Group.
Jurgen Klopp showed compassion for all at the start of this pandemic, senior players heavily involved in @premierleague players taking wage cuts. Then all that respect & goodwill is lost, poor this @LFChttps://t.co/9bE8Rw1veE
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) April 4, 2020
Many in media were no less scathing in their response to the news.
Liverpool CEO Peter Moore Oct ’19: “We had this historical figure, Bill Shankly, a Scottish socialist. Today when we speak about business questions, we ask ourselves: ‘what would Shankly do?’ Doubt he’d have said let the taxpayer pay some wages when you’ve just made £42m profit.
— Brian Reade (@BrianReade) April 4, 2020
Under the UK government’s scheme, workers affected by the coronavirus crisis can claim 80 percent of their wages back, up to £2,500 a month.
The issue of footballers’ pay has become a fractious one during the crisis, with many calling on players to take a hit across the board to ensure others within their clubs do not suffer, or to make sure wealthy clubs and owners do not have recourse to government funds which many feel would be better used elsewhere.
It was announced on Friday that the Premier League would remain suspended “indefinitely” as the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, although the league’s 20 clubs announced they will donate £20 million collectively to the National Health Service (NHS) and a further £125 million to clubs lower down the footballing pyramid.
Discussions over top-level players taking a collective pay cut are ongoing, although it is reported that players will be asked to take a 30 percent reduction in wages as the crisis continues.
Premier League clubs also agreed:- Financial sum to support the NHS, communities, families and vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 pandemic- Advance funds to support @EFL & National League sides- Player wage consultation More: https://t.co/Tv9Leq4GGp#WeAreOneTeam
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 3, 2020
Meanwhile, Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson is believed to be leading talks with fellow Premier League captains to potentially take the initiative and donate money to charity.
Political figures including Health Secretary Matt Hancock have singled out Premier League footballers as having to take a wage hit during the crisis, which some have seen as unfair scapegoating.
Players at big-name clubs across the continent, including the likes of Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Bayern Munich, have already agreed to scale back their pay during the crisis to help others within their clubs or elsewhere.