SOUTHAMPTON HAVE BECOME the first Premier League team to announce an agreement with their players over wage deferral during the coronavirus crisis.
Saints have announced measures to help the club and non-playing staff through the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Southampton’s players, manager Ralph Hasenhuttl and his coaching staff have agreed to defer part of their salaries for the months of April, May and June “to help protect the future of the club, the staff that work within it and the community we serve”.
In addition, the club have confirmed they will not use the Government’s job retention scheme to furlough non-playing staff during that three-month period.
Fellow Premier League sides Tottenham, Newcastle, Norwich and Bournemouth have said they intend to utilise the Government scheme, with Liverpool reversing their decision to do so following widespread criticism.
In a statement, Southampton said: “Our owners, Mr Gao and Katharina Liebherr have put measures in place to ensure that all staff not deferring part of their salaries will continue to receive 100% of their pay, paid in the normal way until 30 June.
“Any decision on the future beyond this date will be made in advance of this, but only when more information is known.
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“In these unprecedented times we are dealing with many challenges to our business model and day-to-day operations.
“The situation is ever-evolving and we will continue to monitor and assess the impact to the club over the coming weeks before deciding any further action necessary.”
Southampton have confirmed that “all activity at Staplewood Campus, St Mary’s Stadium and our other sites continue to be suspended except for essential activities” due to the coronavirus, with the situation to be reviewed at the end of April.
The statement added: “Everyone at the club remains fully committed to the community we value so highly in Southampton.
“We will continue to offer our full support to the city of Southampton through the work of the Saints Foundation and provide any further assistance we can.
“We ask everyone connected to the club and the city of Southampton to listen and adhere to the Government’s advice.
“Meanwhile, we will continue to prepare our club for a return to the pitch and make sure that, when safe, we are ready to play and serve the people of Southampton again. Until then, We March On. Together.”
The top-flight clubs have come under pressure to reach agreements with their players, with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden saying on Thursday that the Government scheme was only intended for their use as a “last resort”.
Mr Dowden told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “They need to think carefully about whether they really need to take advantage of this.
“This scheme is designed for struggling businesses to make sure that if they are faced with a position where they have to make staff redundant, rather than making them redundant they furlough them.
“So football clubs should only be using it as a last resort and I think the fans and the public at large are going to take a pretty dim view if they are not using it except in the last resort.
“This scheme wasn’t designed for people who have millionaire players and billionaire owners.”
On Wednesday evening, it was confirmed that a collective initiative called #PlayersTogether was working with NHS Charities Together to get funding to where it was most urgently needed during the crisis.
The letter, shared by a large number of Premier League players via social media, made clear that these contributions were “separate to any other club and league conversations” regarding wage cuts and deferrals.
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