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Scottish clubs furlough workers as shutdown continues

Celtic, Hamilton and Dundee United are among the clubs taking steps over the financial impact of coronavirus.

SPFL clubs have begun furloughing workers as the financial impact of the coronavirus shutdown is felt across the game.

Celtic, Hearts, Hamilton, Dundee United and Montrose all announced plans on Wednesday which will see staff placed on furlough and the clubs using the UK government’s job retention scheme.

The scheme will allow the clubs to claim back 80% of wages up to a maximum of £2500 per month for each employee.

Celtic have said that they will pay their staff 100% of their wages.

A Celtic spokesperson said: “Like many organisations, due to the unprecedented challenges currently being faced, Celtic will be using the government job retention scheme available, in relation to a number of colleagues.

“At this time, Celtic will ensure that each colleague on this scheme will receive 100 per cent salary, with all other conditions and benefits remaining unchanged.

“Other colleagues will continue to work as normal to cover the club’s ongoing operational requirements.

“Celtic would like to sincerely thank each and every member of staff for all their continued efforts and their tremendous support during such a difficult time for everyone.”

Hearts, who had previously offered staff a 50% pay cut or discussion about contract termination, have confirmed that they are using the government scheme and furloughing non-playing staff at the club.

A spokesperson said that the club would ensure that no employee would fall below the Living Wage.

Hamilton have furloughed their entire playing squad on full pay while clubs wait for news on when a return to action could be possible.

Accies chairman Allan Maitland said that the club felt payment in full was only fair but were aware that their salaries were not comparable to some players in the league.

“The players have been told that we’re going to furlough them as workers so we’re not giving them any instructions on what to do, they’re really just being told to do nothing and we’re paying them in full all the way through,” he told the Daily Record.

“Unlike other clubs who are paying a percentage of their wages etc we’ve told our players they’re going to pay them their full wages and we’ll claim back what we can.

“It’s the sensible way forward. For us, £2500 or 80 per cent of their wages covers a lot of our wages, whereas for a lot of other clubs it won’t even start to look at it.

“For us that’s a high percentage so it’s important that we try and get that support as much as we possibly can.

“We were always going to be looking after them. The fact that we’ve got this opportunity from the government – which is a great thing by the way – to help support companies, businesses and football clubs, that is a bonus for us.”

In a statement updating supporters on steps being taken at Tannadice, Dundee United managing director Mal Brannigan said that employees were being furloughed “across all departments”with just a skeleton staff remaining.

He said: “The club has decided to utilise the government’s job retention scheme and place a large number of employees across all club departments on furlough leave.

“Dundee United, in some aspects, is not unlike any other business that is either utilising this scheme currently or is in the throes of implementing it, especially as it protects the employee’s role at the club during this period.

I believe that this is the best option for Dundee United and it would be remiss of me to not make effective use of it, given the importance of protecting the long-term sustainability of the club.

“The scheme is a huge source of business relief, essentially on our cash flow, given that wages and salaries are our largest monthly outlay and an invaluable short-term lifeline to the club while we await the return of football and our usual match-day income streams.

“A skeleton staff remains at the club so that we can react to changes at the right time and with the right decision.”

Brannigan also addressed the uncertainty around the remainder of the season and what should happen if fixtures can’t be fulfilled. United are currently 14 points clear at the top of the table.

He said: “No one is clear yet on what will happen with the rest of the season and how it will conclude but I can assure you all that promotion back to the Premiership was our aim at the start of it and that will not change, however it is achieved: there has been too much invested into this season by the club and the fans to not see this ambition realised.

“It is a tough predicament that the SPFL and SFA Boards find themselves in at the moment, especially as there are no precedents to rely on.

“In my view, the direction coming from FIFA and UEFA will influence the majority of the leagues throughout Europe, including our own, as they try to re-arrange their footballing calendars and the participants for their next competitions.”

League One side Montrose also furloughed staff and players. Club chairman John Crawford said that the difficult decision had been taken in order to avoid redundancies.