Liverpool Football Club’s decision to place its non-playing staff on the Government’s furlough scheme came as a shock. I thought that if any club was going to do the right thing, it would be ours; I was wrong. While the club’s decision to top up the 80% of money that around 200 employees will receive from the British tax payer by 20% is welcomed, I find it shameful that the club’s owners have taken the decision to exploit the furlough scheme.
A club with a supporters’ base that traditionally bemoans the Government and has always prided itself for supporting socialist values, has opted to exploit access to funds that are supposed to be for struggling businesses and people who genuinely need help. Liverpool Football Club is not on its arse and neither is John Henry who has a net worth in excess of £2billion. What exactly has the club lost? Many will suggest that some gate receipts from a handful of games, some sales from club shops and lost revenue from things like club tours and events that would usually have been held at Anfield won’t be coming in but everyone knows that the big money comes from the TV deals and as yet, there’s no suggestion of that money having to be paid back.
The latest accounts showed a pre-tax profit of £42million and an increased turnover to £533million in 2018-19. Liverpool Football Club is a very wealthy club with very wealthy owners. There is no excuse for having to furlough its non-playing staff. The club can ride this out without having to take tax payers money.
The decision to furlough staff at Newcastle and Tottenham doesn’t come as a surprise. The owners of both clubs come under constant criticism from their supporters. Liverpool Football Club has always, I had thought, been different in my eyes, but not any more it would seem.
Manchester City have stated that they will not use the furlough scheme and will continue to pay staff 100% of their wages. Manchester United are also reportedly set to pay approximately 900 non-playing staff in full and will not be using the furlough scheme.
Even West Brom have said they will do all that they can to continue paying staff themselves without having to use tax payers money. West Brom’s chief executive Mark Jenkins has announced that he will take a 100 per cent pay cut himself during the coronavirus crisis while other club executives have also offered to take large reductions in their wages. Where’s Peter Moore and Co.?
I’d like to see some figures published by our club as to what huge losses they have suffered. I’d also like to know if our well-paid club executives are receiving furlough. More information should be made available by the club.
I was glad to see club legend Jamie Carragher publicly criticising the club’s decision. He tweeted: “Jurgen Klopp showed compassion for all at the start of this pandemic, senior players heavily involved in Premier League players taking wage cuts. Then all that respect and goodwill is lost, poor this Liverpool.”
Former Reds’ striker Stan Collymore also tweeted: “I don’t know of any Liverpool fan of any standing that won’t be anything other than disgusted at the club for furloughing staff. It’s just plain f*cking wrong.
“Fellow football fans, furlough is for small business staff to keep those small businesses from going bump! Every Premier League owner has serious cash, and make money from skyrocketing values of clubs, so what aren’t you getting about YOUR owners dipping into THEIR pocket?”
While Danny Murphy chimed in by saying: “It is grotesque because it wasn’t introduced for Premier League clubs who have more than enough money to look after their own.
“I’m particularly disappointed with the decision coming from Liverpool yesterday (Saturday) because it runs against the togetherness and unity the club has always been renowned for, particularly over the last 30 years since Hillsborough.
“I think there will be a backlash and while the club’s business people might think it will save them some money in the short-term, it will cause reputational damage.”
A member of staff who works for the club told the BBC: “The club call their staff their family – I’m not feeling like a family member.
“Why is a club that turns over [millions of pounds] using a government scheme for its staff, when other businesses are more in need of it?
“I feel disappointed and I’m feeling that this government scheme could be used by businesses in trouble.”
They also added that they were “disappointed, especially after Everton said they were not doing it”.
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Footballers are an easy target during the current crisis. I don’t believe they should be forced to take pay reductions but I do believe that all big earners, footballers included, should do their bit. If footballers are to be forced to give up some of their pay, then every other big earner or wealthy individual in the UK should also be forced into doing so too. I absolutely believe and support the idea that footballers should make personal sacrifices with regards their pay. It’s about what’s right and what’s wrong and at the end of this, we will see who the good people were. One unnamed Liverpool player donated £25,000 to Alder Hey’s children hospital last week to help them fight the virus. It’s stories like this that I want to hear about i.e. personal decisions that are not born out of pressure and that are taken without narcissistic publicity.
It didn’t come as a surprise when I discovered that Reds’ skipper Jordan Henderson had reached out to the captains at other clubs to see if they could collectively raise millions for a special NHS fund. This sincere gesture and the very moving video fronted by Jurgen Klopp where he and other club staff recorded personal messages for health workers around the world, filled me with pride. I have to be honest, the video actually had me fighting back tears. Both of these positives have been undone by greedy club owners and officials.
One of our members posted this question within our community today: “Do we have to do this, or did we choose to do this?”. That basically sums things up for me. Any decent person out there knows the answer.
The furlough decision is “grotesque” and “plain f*cking wrong”. It’s one more reason that I feel further distanced from the so called beautiful game and why I wouldn’t struggle to turn my back on a sport that has had such a bearing on my life, title winning year or not. I know I’m not alone with that view.
When this crisis is over we will remember who made us proud and who let us down. On this occasion, Liverpool Football Club, like all those clowns who won’t stay home, have let us down terribly.
If you’re one of those people that think Liverpool were right to take this decision, I’m glad to say that you’re in the minority. Business is business, yes, but there’s also a moral issue here. Many businesses will go under because of this pandemic and that includes those that have genuinely had to furlough its staff. Liverpool won’t go under and neither will the likes of John Henry who should hang his head in shame at turning to the British tax payer for reasons of nothing more than greed.
Reverse this decision.
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