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Liverpool: We were wrong to claim relief cash for staff

 

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Liverpool seriously misjudged the strength of feeling among fans when taking what they initially believed a pragmatic and necessary business decision in the face of mounting costs. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff/File Photo

Liverpool seriously misjudged the strength of feeling among fans when taking what they initially believed a pragmatic and necessary business decision in the face of mounting costs. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff/File Photo

Action Images via Reuters

Liverpool seriously misjudged the strength of feeling among fans when taking what they initially believed a pragmatic and necessary business decision in the face of mounting costs. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff/File Photo

Liverpool have reversed their controversial decision to furlough half of their non-playing staff and apologised for "getting it wrong".

Owners Fenway Sports Group held a review of their policy, having been urged to reconsider using the UK government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to ease the financial burden while the pandemic pauses football.

Not for the first time in his tenure, principal owner John W Henry relented in the face of public opinion, especially from his own supporters. There was mounting pressure from Merseyside politicians to engage and reassess the weekend decision. FSG's decision was met with relief by fans.

As Liverpool announced their about-turn, Manchester United followed neighbours City by confirming they would not adopt a policy which is being pursued by Premier League clubs Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United, Norwich City and Bournemouth. Burnley chairman Mike Garlick vowed the club would not furlough staff.

In a letter to fans, Liverpool chief executive Peter Moore was repentant.

"We believe we came to the wrong conclusion last week to announce that we intended to apply to the Coronavirus Retention Scheme and furlough staff due to the suspension of the Premier League football calendar, and are truly sorry for that," he said in a statement.

"Our intentions were, and still are, to ensure the entire workforce is given as much protection as possible from redundancy and/or loss of earnings during this unprecedented period. We are therefore committed to finding alternative ways to operate while there are no football matches being played that ensures we are not applying for the government relief scheme."

Liverpool seriously misjudged the strength of feeling among fans when taking what they initially believed a pragmatic and necessary business decision in the face of mounting costs.

The club have been in talks about the economic impact of the health crisis with senior staff, including manager Jurgen Klopp and leading players, for weeks. Many senior staff have already accepted pay cuts.

"In the spirit of transparency we must also be clear, despite the fact we were in a healthy position prior to this crisis, our revenues have been shut off yet our outgoings remain," Moore added.

"And, like almost every sector of society, there is great uncertainty and concern over our present and future.

"Like any responsible employer concerned for its workers in the current situation, the club continues to prepare for a range of different scenarios around when football can return to operating as it did before the pandemic. These scenarios range from best case to worst and everything in between."

United confirmed shortly before Liverpool that they would not be furloughing staff. They also encouraged United employees who are unable to work or with a reduced workload to volunteer for the NHS or local communities, and extended goodwill payments to non-match-day casual workers until June 1.

But Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has signalled his intent to push ahead with 20-per-cent wage cuts and furloughing for the club's non-playing staff.

While the latest wounds were treated, there was some positive news for Liverpool as Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin claimed he "cannot imagine a scenario" in which they are not Premier League champions.

Although Uefa's jurisdiction only covers European competitions and not domestic leagues, Ceferin's intervention will carry weight.

He told the daily sports newspaper 'EkipaSN', in his native Slovenia: "If the Premier League resumes play, Liverpool will almost certainly win the title. If by any chance the play will not resume, we still have to find a way to declare final results, to declare champions. And, again, I cannot imagine a scenario in which the champions will not be Liverpool." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk


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