LONDON, April 25 (Reuters) - Premier League strugglers Norwich City have said they will not go back on their decision to furlough non-playing staff due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, as the club believes the decision is the right one for “business”.
Professional soccer in England has been suspended since March 13 due to the pandemic, and some Premier League clubs initially moved to furlough non-playing staff to make use of a government scheme that would pay part of their wages.
Norwich and Newcastle United are the only two clubs still using the scheme, however, after Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Bournemouth all reversed decisions to furlough non-playing staff following criticism from the public and their own fans.
“We won’t change just to be seen as changing for a little public perception” Stuart Webber, sporting director at Norwich, told British media on Saturday. “We stick to our beliefs and believe we’ve done it for the right reasons for our business. That’s what people forget - it’s a business.
“Lots of businesses have lots of staff earning lots of money, who aren’t getting anywhere near the public attention that football clubs are getting.”
Norwich were bottom of the standings before football was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Norwich players and management have agreed to donate a percentage of their salaries amounting to more than 200,000 pounds to help those affected by the virus.
The club expects to lose 18 to 35 million pounds ($22-$43 million) in revenue due to the suspension of play, but Webber said it currently does not plan to sell players to limit the damage.
Some Premier League sides have announced wage deferrals for players, but Webber said Norwich had not discussed this option.
“We’ve only furloughed members of staff who literally cannot work at this moment in time, so at least 50% of the workforce are still working in lots of different areas across the club,” said Zoe Ward, business and project director.
“We’ve taken this decision to protect staff, not only now, but in the future. What we wouldn’t want is have a situation where we don’t furlough now and we don’t know where this will go or what the impacts will be and then, say in six to 12 months time, we’re having to make some really difficult calls in terms of staffing.” ($1 = 0.8086 pounds) (Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Hugh Lawson)