Tottenham reverse controversial plans to furlough non-playing staff

LONDON (AFP) – Tottenham on Monday reversed a heavily criticised decision to cut the wages of non-playing staff at the Premier League club by 20 per cent and use United Kingdom (UK) government money to prop up the rest of their salaries.

Spurs Chairman Daniel Levy said at the end of March the club planned to use the British government’s furlough scheme which will guarantee 80 per cent of wages up to a maximum of GBP2,500 a month during the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

That decision led to widespread criticism, including from senior political figures, as Tottenham have not yet cut the much more lucrative salaries of their playing squad.

Liverpool, who beat Spurs in last season’s Champions League final, were also forced into an embarrassing climbdown last week after initially announcing they too were planning to use the furlough scheme for non-playing staff.

“We have decided that all non-playing staff, whether full-time, casual or furloughed, will receive 100 per cent of their pay for April and May. Only the board will take salary reductions,” Tottenham said in a statement.

File photo shows volunteers working on food supplies and essential items to be delivered to residents, at a hub setup inside the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, in London. PHOTO: AP

The Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust (THST) had led a fans’ campaign for non-playing staff to receive 100 per cent of their wage.

“We are acutely aware that many supporters were against the decision we made regarding furloughing staff who could not carry out their jobs from home,” the Tottenham statement added.

“In view of supporter sentiment regarding the scheme, it is now not our intention to make use of the current CJRS (coronavirus job retention scheme) that runs until the end of May.”

The THST welcomed the decision from the club to backtrack on their original plans.

“It takes maturity and humility to reverse such a contentious and public decision and we’re pleased that, rather than doubling down, the club’s board has listened to the fans on this occasion and ultimately done the right thing,” the THST said in a statement.

“We’re delighted for the club’s non-playing staff and we thank the club’s directors for finding an alternative way forward. This is the first step, but a big step, in restoring relations between fans and the club.”

Levy has been the target for much of the criticism as it was revealed he was paid GBP7 million last season, including a GBP3 million bonus for the completion of the club’s GBP1 billion stadium which ran over time and budget.

Tottenham have posted combined profits of GBP182 million over the past two seasons.

“It was never our intent, as custodians, to do anything other than put measures in place to protect jobs whilst the club sought to continue to operate in a self-sufficient manner during uncertain times,” said Levy.

“We regret any concern caused during an anxious time and hope the work our supporters will see us doing in the coming weeks, as our stadium takes on a whole new purpose, will make them proud of their club.”

With Premier League football suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak, Tottenham’s stadium is being transformed into use for a number of different purposes in response to the crisis.