COVID-19: Liverpool REVERSE furlough decision

Following the backlash to the decision, Liverpool FC have overturned their decision to furlough members of their staff.

The club released a statement at 18:30GMT, aimed directly at the fans, to let them know that they will NOT be furloughing any staff members and will instead find “alternative means” despite being eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The statement was billed as a letter to the fans from Peter Moore, the CEO of Liverpool FC. Within it, Moore directly and unequivocally apologised for the decision saying that they “came to the wrong conclusion” and are “truly sorry” for doing so.

Moore also made sure to thank and name particular Liverpool supporters groups and notable fans of the club for “engaging with us [the club] in a productive fashion”. Read the full letter from Peter Moore below.

Full Liverpool Statement

“Dear Liverpool supporters,

“First and foremost on behalf of our ownership, Fenway Sports Group, we would like to emphasise the thoughts and concerns of everyone are with those suffering from the dreadful COVID-19 pandemic and the families of those affected.

“We would also recognise and pay tribute to the heroism of the incredible health service and key workers locally, nationally and internationally. All other worries should be placed in that context first.

“Allowing for perspective in these unprecedented and harrowing times, it is important to address an issue we, as an organisation, have been involved in since the weekend.

“We have consulted with a range of key stakeholders as part of a process aimed at achieving the best possible outcome for all concerned. A range of possible scenarios were considered, including but not restricted to: applying to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which pays 80 per cent of salary and guaranteeing the 20 per cent payment; applying to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme with a guarantee to reimburse monies received at a later date; and, thirdly, finding an alternative means to cover our furlough costs.

“It is as a direct result of this extensive consultation and our own internal deliberations at various levels throughout the club that we have opted to find alternative means despite our eligibility to apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

“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. 

“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.   

“We would like to acknowledge the great army of staff and casual workers who work tirelessly to ensure Liverpool is a club that operates to the highest of standards. 

“But 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. 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.

“It is an unavoidable truth that several of these scenarios involve a massive downturn in revenue, with correspondingly unprecedented operating losses. Having these vital financial resources so profoundly impacted would obviously negatively affect our ability to operate as we previously have.

“We are engaged in the process of exploring all avenues within our scope to limit the inevitable damage. We thank the many amazing people in our club, at all levels, who are committed to helping us do just that, despite the complexity and unpredictability in the world and our industry.

“We would also like to take the opportunity to thank those who have engaged with us in a productive fashion, none more so than our supporters, their representatives, particularly Spirit of Shankly, the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, local MPs Dan Carden and many other individuals, with whom we have had much valued dialogue. 

“Stay safe.
Peter Moore
Chief executive officer”

The Backlash to the original decision

Liverpool had received an incredible amount of backlash for the original decision to furlough members of their staff. Players, pundits, fans and journalists were all scathing in their response.

Even a Liverpool FC staff member spoke to the BBC about the decision, declaring they didn’t feel very much like a “member of family” in the way Liverpool like to say their staff are.

Club legend Jamie Carragher also weighed in, taking to his social media to call out the club for ruining all of the “respect and goodwill” garnered by the likes of Jordan Henderson and Jurgen Klopp for their reaction to the crisis.

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, LFC.”

Even I stuck my oar in with an article claiming it was a kick in the teeth to Liverpool fans across the country. You can read that here if you so wish, but it’s slightly out of date now…

It’s nice to see that they have taken into account the wishes of their fans, swallowed their pride and done what they should have done in the first place. It’s good that they listened, but the fact remains that this should never have happened.

Respect should be paid to the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City for stating from the outset that they would NOT use the furlough scheme, opting instead to pay wages in full throughout.

Well done to Liverpool for realising that they are wrong and doing something about it, but it does make you wonder what exactly what going through their heads to ever make them think that it was a good idea…

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Kieran Harm
Kieran hails from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and holds a degree in Sports Journalism from the University of Brighton. He covers a range of sports, specialising in football and NFL. Kieran is a long-suffering member of the Toon Army as well as a very proud member of Broncos Country.

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