Sheffield United reviewing furlough plan and could refuse to use worker retention scheme

Sheffield United are understood to be reviewing proposals to use a government scheme, designed to protect jobs throughout the coronavirus crisis, to help them cover the costs of placing staff on furlough as they look to safeguard the club’s financial position until competition resumes.

Tuesday, 7th April 2020, 8:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th April 2020, 8:55 pm

The Star has also learnt that, although some employees are still likely to be granted a temporary leave of absence during the fixture shutdown, United’s hierarchy could continue to cover the total cost of their salaries whilst allowing them to volunteer to help the fight against the pandemic.

Taking this step would not oblige United to use the worker retention scheme, which effectively sees the taxpayer underwrite 80 per cent of an affected individual’s salary up to a sum of £2,500.

Letters informing those being considered for furlough are believed to have been delivered on Tuesday morning.

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Less than 50 full-time members of staff, who have been unable to perform their day to day duties since the Premier League’s schedule was suspended last month, are thought to have received the communication. It stated that, if United do take this measure, they will continue to receive full pay.

Those employed on a casual basis were given the same assurance.

Clubs across English football, including those in the top-flight, are facing huge challenges caused by the spread of Covid-19.

One report has estimated that those in the PL alone could suffer total losses of over £1b if the season is abandoned, with United hit to the tune of £41.9m.

Sheffield United are reconsidering how some members of staff are set to be placed on furlough: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

Speaking after Burnley chairman Mike Garlick warned Turf Moor’s coffers would be empty by August should the campaign fail to be completed, FA chairman Greg Clarke admitted: “Football faces economic challenges beyond the wildest imagination of those who run it.

“The pandemic will be followed by its economic consequences and all business sectors will suffer.

“We face the danger of losing clubs and leagues as finances collapse. Many communities could lose the clubs at their heart with little chance of resurrection.”

“Everyone should understand that the Premier League clubs are not immune from the impact of this and whilst they are impacted to different degrees depending on their cost base, the potential overall financial impact is huge.”

United, who were seventh in the table when the mass postponements were announced, could shed further light on the situation over the coming days.