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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.”

Photo: TWTD

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Hipsterectomy added 18:07 - Jul 8

Dockerblue added 18:57 - Jul 8
May be a good time to off- load some of the under achievers, start with the captain and most of the coaching staff who clearly aren't,t capable of doing the jobs they are paid to do

SamWhiteUK added 19:05 - Jul 8
Not being funny, how can toalks for deferring wages STILL be going on?! By the time it's sorted, the new season will have started, COVID will be gone....

istanblue added 20:24 - Jul 8
Might as well put Lee O'Neill on furlough as he neither says or does anything useful.

heathen66 added 20:31 - Jul 8
No deferral of wages, after 17 weeks on full pay, but refunds to the fans (most of whom earn a fraction) will have to be given in three instalments over 10 months... REALLY ???
I find this all vary hard to accept, as Evans pleads with the supporters saying how much he needs us and we are in this together.
Us supporters are in it together, and perhaps the owner, but after that I am not too sure !!!

sparks added 20:40 - Jul 8
This really isnt what the furlough scheme was for. Feels cynical.

blues1 added 20:49 - Jul 8
Heathen66. Just think about what youve written for a minute and you'll realise uve answered ur own question. Its because theres been no deferral of wages that we are having to wait. And is it really that much of an issue getting it back in installments. After all, cmanyvpay in installments, so what's the difference? Plus we're getting more back than we actually paid in too. So maybe, for once, we fans should stop whinging, and be grateful for what we're getting. Amazes me that while fans of other clubs are giving their clubs money, to help them out from this crisis, that all some of our fans do is whinge at every single thing the club do.

heathen66 added 21:15 - Jul 8
I just find it all very strange that those players on in excess of £5k a week are happy and willing to take ALL of their money (for actually doing nothing) as again the owner is dipping his hand in his pocket (again !!!), whilst everyday people who earn only a fraction (of whom some are on furlough them selves earning 80% of their weekly wage), are investing their money from last season and next (already started paying for next seasons ST).
All I am saying is that it just does not sit right !!!

oldegold added 21:38 - Jul 8
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but if evans had shown some statement of intent to take Town into the Premiership then we wouldn't be here counting pennies. He has never seriously invested in the club...he's a businessman but uncomfortable in the football market and not shrewd enough to make Town a force. Ongoing decline since 2007 whereas once we would always be punching above our weight but now lightweight also-runs under him.

blues1 added 21:40 - Jul 8
Heathen66 . Yer, I agree about the players getting their full money. They should have agreed a deferral early on. Just think that we fans, like those at other clubs, should be willing to do our bit and help the club out . At the end of the day, regardless of what's gone on in the past 10 years or so, this pandemic,is obviously an extraordinary event, that is no1s fault at the club. And I'd rather help the club out than have no club to support. And if not getting anything back right away would help, then that's what I'll do. Maybe I'm daft, but although I get the fact that we havent had what we paid for, wed have paid that money out anyway, so wouldnt really miss it. That's just how I see it tho. Understand those who dont. Even if i do think most could help out somehow. Problem is, that if everyone wanted their money back, the club would be in trouble. But yes, I get ur point.

BryanPlug added 22:06 - Jul 8
Talks ongoing...

Club: “Please will you defer your wages, we’re in the sh1t?”

Players: “Nope”

peaky69 added 00:48 - Jul 9
Couple of points I'd like to make:
1. nobody, absolutely nobody, correctly predicted the path COVID-19 was going to create, least of all some players kicking a ball around. When asked to defer payment they were all still thinking they'd be finishing the season. Clearly that has changed as I hope their willingness to help the club is.
2. we all should really start thinking about living with COVID-19 just as we do with the flue, AIDS and other diseases we have no real cure for. It's not going away any time soon.

DurhamTownFan added 08:14 - Jul 9
If you don’t want to go into details, why did you mention it? Seems like a bit of an error to even bring it up and then backtrack.

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