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Norwich defend furloughing of staff due to virus

Norwich City have defended their controversial decision to furlough 200 non-playing staff due to the coronavirus pandemic © AFP/File / Glyn KIRK

LONDON, United Kingdom, Apr 25Premier League strugglers Norwich City have defended their decision to use the British government’s furlough scheme for 200 non-playing staff after the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With vast swathes of British industry shut down because of the coronavirus, the UK government launched a scheme that sees 80 percent of wages up to a maximum of £2,500 (Sh300,000) a month guaranteed during the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

Norwich, who were bottom when the campaign was suspended, and Newcastle are the only Premier League clubs currently using the job retention scheme.

Bournemouth, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur performed U-turns due to a vocal backlash after initially announcing they too would take advantage of the scheme.

Norwich say the suspension of football will cost them between £18 million and £35 million.

“The decision we made was in the best interests of the club and its staff,” chief operating officer Ben Kensell told BBC Radio Norfolk.

“We’ve been very transparent that we’re run in a self-financed manner.

“We generate a turnover of £123m – £93m of that is broadcast, and we’ve spent £125m this year – and that’s how we run the club,

“Ultimately, if we had the available cashflow to not have to take up schemes then, like other football clubs have, we would.”

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The Canaries hope to make £2.5 million of savings and have agreed with British tax authorities to delay £18 million of repayments.

Norwich players have not followed the lead of fellow professionals at Watford, Sheffield United, Southampton or West Ham in agreeing to wage deferrals or taking a pay cut as most of the Arsenal squad have agreed to.

However, the players, head coach Daniel Farke, the executive committee and directors have donated more than £200,000 towards local initiatives.

Kensell said furloughing staff now could hopefully prevent the much more traumatic step of making people redundant once some form of normality returns.

“The difference is we’re running it as a business and we’re running it the best way we believe will help it for the future,” said Kensell.

“It’s also about our staff. What we don’t want is a raft of redundancies.

“We knew we’d get criticised as a result of it; what we’re not going to do is take a different view on that. We’ll stick to our guns and we believe we are doing it for the right reasons.

“We’ve got the best owners (Delia Smith and her husband Michael Wynn-Jones) in football — that’s a fact. We haven’t got the richest owners but we like to think we’re doing things the right way.”

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