Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group were reportedly ‘shocked’ at the public backlash after the club announced its plans to utilise the government’s job retention scheme in furloughing non-playing staff amid the coronavirus crisis.
The Premier League leaders announced their intention to furlough around 200 members of non-playing employees in order to cut costs during the current pandemic, only to reverse the announcement and make a public apology following an angry backlash to the decision.
Chief executive Peter Moore wrote an open letter to supporters on Monday apologising for the club’s decision, writing that the Reds were ‘truly sorry’ after coming to the ‘wrong conclusion’ when considering the financial implications of football’s suspension.
According to The Athletic, Liverpool’s principal owner John W Henry, in addition to chairman Tom Werner and FSG president Mike Gordon, were said to have been left ‘shocked’ by the criticism received and felt a reversal of their decision was the best policy to reduce the damage caused.
Four Premier League sides – Tottenham, Newcastle, Norwich and Bournemouth – had already announced plans to furlough their non-playing staff, with Liverpool‘s ownership believing the initial decision was sensible given the current ‘cash-flow issues’ and lack of revenue streams.
The Merseyside club possess an annual wage bill of £310m and are obliged to pay instalments on previous transfers in the coming months, all while there remains an uncertainty on whether TV revenue will have to be repaid to broadcasters with the remainder of the current season in jeopardy.
The Athletic add that several of the club’s executive staff, including chief executive Moore, have taken voluntary pay-cuts over the past week, though this has been kept under wraps to avoid adding additional pressure to players currently being urged to contribute by government officials amid the coronavirus crisis.
Liverpool’s owners believed that their status as a major UK taxpayer and huge source of employment for the city entitled the business to use the government’s job retention scheme without backlash, while the Reds were also committed – unlike Tottenham – to topping up staff wages by an additional 20% in order to leave no employee out of pocket.
According to the report, the backlash against Liverpool’s decision was so toxic that several Premier League clubs have backtracked on their own plans to furlough staff in order to avoid the hostility the league leaders have received.