O'Neill: Some Town Players on Furlough
Wednesday, 8th Jul 2020 18:04
Lee O’Neill has revealed that a number of Town players have been put on furlough during the Covid-19 crisis. The Blues general manager of football operations also says discussions with the squad regarding wage deferrals are continuing.
TWTD reported that that most of the club’s off-field staff were furloughed back in April - with owner Marcus Evans covering the additional 20 per cent of their wages - but up to now it was believed no players had been put on the job retention scheme introduced by the Government early on in the lockdown.
“We’ve looked at registering some of the players on the furlough system,” O’Neill confirmed to TWTD. “Everyone’s different, everyone’s unique, some players are doing rehab, everyone’s very different, so we’re looking at everyone as an individual case on where they are.
“And again that’s the same with the staffing structure and how we have some people on furlough and some people taken off furlough.”
Asked how many players have been on furlough, O’Neill added: “I don’t want to go into specifics because it changes. Some people are on it, some are off it based on the situation and the circumstances.
“I’m not going to go into the specifics of every player because I think that’s personal information for the club.
“The furlough system is there and it’s been very helpful for a number of aspects of the football club and I think that will help us going forward.
“Operationally, more importantly, that’s what we’ve got to try and get back to and that means obviously we need all the players and all the staff back to work as quickly as possible.”
Pressed on whether senior players have been on the scheme, O’Neill responded: “I’m not going to go through whether they’re senior, junior or anything else because I think it’s sensitive information for the club’s purpose.
“I think we have to look at all of those options, and we have done. I’m not going to comment individually about which players are on furlough and which players aren’t on furlough because I don’t think that’s very fair.”
In April, The Sun on Sunday erroneously claimed the Town squad had turned down a request to defer their wages from owner Marcus Evans.
Negotiations had only just got under way at that point and O’Neill says talks have continued and remain are ongoing.
“I haven’t read the article in The Sun but I was aware of the situation,” he said. “We are in constant dialogue, we’ve got a good relationship with the players. They very much want to do their bit to try and help out.
“We’re in constant dialogue as to what that might look like. It’s probably a little bit related to when we can get games back on and what they’re going to look like.
“We’re looking at all of those options on how we can operate with the whole staffing structure and the playing structure going forward. There’s no us and them situation, we’re all in it together.”
He added: “They’re very keen to try and help support the club and if that is a financial aspect they have looked at and will consider it, we’ve also got considerations with the PFA and the salary cap situation, all of that to look forward to as well in the new season, so all of that situation is under review.”
In March, manager Paul Lambert said he and his staff were willing to defer some of their wages.
“Again, I’m not going to comment on the manager’s situation but what I will say in relation to the first-team staffing structure, there has been an open and honest discussion with senior staff about them contributing towards this situation,” O’Neill said when quizzed on whether the offer was taken up by the club.
“They’re very much understanding of where we’re at and what they can do to help and they’ve addressed it with the football club as well.”
Regarding off-field staff, O’Neill says some remain on furlough while others have been taken off with plans for staffing levels currently unclear due to the uncertainty regarding the start of the new season.
“I think we’re waiting for our operational timelines,” he said. “Until we know exactly when the first game of the season is going to be or when we’re able to officially report for pre-season, how many staff and what the operational aspects are like will depend on that.
“We are very much in the dark at the moment. Although we have been given guidelines on certain timeframes, we actually don’t know and I don’t think the Premier League and the EFL and Government know specifically at the moment, it’s changing by the day and by the week.
“Until we have those cemented ideas as to what the dates are going to be that makes it easier to plan the staffing structure around it.”
Could the club be forced to make redundancies? “That’s something we’re trying to avoid at all costs really. We went through a really tough time last year when we came out of the Championship and we had to unfortunately go through that process.
“I think the staffing structure we have in place at the club at the moment is the right one for the club at this particular level and we don’t want to be in a situation where we have to look at our staffing structure.
“I think it’s one of those things though, if this were to carry on for several more months then obviously, yes, we’d look at all areas of the club again on the proviso that we could be losing several million pounds if football isn’t played any time soon.”
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