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Message from Scotland – ‘Most likely July/August at earliest’ for football to resume

7 months ago
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When we will see football kick off once again?

With the Coronavirus impacting, like so many other industries and walks of life, football has been significantly affected.

After UEFA’s meeting on Tuesday cleared the 2020 Euros from the summer schedule, English Premier League clubs are now meeting today (Thursday) to try and formulate plans to potentially complete the league seasons, in readiness if/when the ongoing situation allows.

It has been widely reported that by the end of June, potentially creeping into July, could be a viable target for ending the season.

However, a message from Scotland claims that July is ‘most likely’ the very EARLIEST football might resume over the border.

Hearts owner Ann Budge has released a statement (see below) announcing the club have asked players and staff to take a wage cut of 50%, due to the financial impact of the coronavirus, stating: ‘This reduction in income is not sustainable without taking immediate action to cut staff costs and overheads.’

All full-time employees will be affected and those who feel “unable or unwilling” to take the cut, will be offered the chance to leave Hearts..

There is a safety net though in part, with Ann Budge reassuring lower paid full-time staff that nobody will be paid less than the living wage, which works out at £18,135 per year.

As for when a point can be reached for first team football to be played again, the Hearts owner has a sobering message: ‘The Scottish FA has now suspended football for the foreseeable future and, whilst there is no specified end date to this, it is most likely that the game will not resume until July/early August at the earliest.’

Hearts are currently four points adrift at the bottom of the table and Ann Budge has previously said that the club would consider legal advice should they be relegated without the season being completed.

With gate money a far bigger proportion of the revenues for most Scottish clubs than their English Premier League counterparts and TV money minimal over the border, the idea of trying to complete the season behind closed doors in Scotland would have far less appeal to clubs struggling financially.

Hearts official statement:

We are living through unprecedented and challenging times at the moment. As you will appreciate my priority is the health and well-being of our people and in addition to this, as Chairman and CEO of the Club, I must also do everything in my power to ensure that we keep our Club safe and financially sound.

The Scottish FA has now suspended football for the foreseeable future and, whilst there is no specified end date to this, it is most likely that the game will not resume until July/early August at the earliest. In addition, the latest Government measures regarding social distancing and restrictions on large gatherings, mean that the impacts of this will be felt across our entire business.

This has two main consequences for the Club:

(i) There will be no income from matches and all associated business streams whilst football is suspended;

(ii) There is unlikely to be any income from our non-matchday business streams (eg events/bar).

This reduction in income is not sustainable without taking immediate action to cut staff costs and overheads. As such, I need to act swiftly and take steps now to ensure that we, as a Club, can weather this storm while trying to ensure we are ready to resume operations as and when we move into calmer waters and football restarts. I cannot achieve this without the full cooperation and support of all of our key stakeholders, namely staff, coaches, players and supporters. I cannot stress strongly enough that we need everyone to get behind the Club to help us through this.

STAFFING COST REDUCTIONS

‘In order to try to prevent a staff redundancy programme and to protect as many jobs as possible, I am proposing to implement a Club-wide salary reduction programme.

We have asked all full-time employees, managers, coaches, players and player back-room staff, with effect from the beginning of April, to accept a 50% cut in their monthly salary, with the following caveats:

No-one’s full-time salary will fall below the Living Wage. In other words, if the 50% reduction would take anyone’s salary below this threshold, the full-time salary will be set at £18,135.

Given the uncertainty of the whole situation with which we have been presented, we cannot say how long these measures will be in place. We will, of course, be continuously reviewing the situation.

Staff and players alike, who feel unable or unwilling to accept this revision to their contracts, will, of course, be offered the option of contract termination.

In summary… I want to assure everyone that these decisions have not been taken lightly. If I was not absolutely convinced that this is necessary for the future sustainability of our business, I would not be asking our employees to face these cuts.

Never has it been more important that we stand together as colleagues, and I’d like to thank the staff for their understanding. Similarly, we would ask our fans and our FOH pledgers to continue to support us in any way they can, during this very difficult time.

I thank you all and give you my personal assurance that I will do everything in my power to try to guide us safely through the next few months.

Ann Budge’

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