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Tottenham u-turn and grovelling apology leaves Mike Ashley and Newcastle United standing alone

6 months ago
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Tottenham have done the decent thing, eventually.

Monday (13 April) seeing the club putting out an official statement reversing the decisions announced 13 days ago.

One day after Mike Ashley and Newcastle United furloughed non-playing staff and told them they had to rely on the government/taxpayers to fund their wages (80% of normal wage up to £2,500 a month), Tottenham did the same on 31 March.

Today though has seen the White Hart Lane club do a u-turn and issue a grovelling apology to their supporters, admitting that they got it wrong and listened to their fans (and media, general public, politicians…):

‘In view of supporter sentiment regarding the scheme, it is now not our intention to make use of the current CJRS that runs until the end of May.

We are acutely aware that many supporters were against the decision we made regarding furloughing staff who could not carry out their jobs from home – due to the nature of their work – and our intention to apply, if applicable, for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), a scheme designed to ensure that jobs and employment rights are protected.’

The move by major football clubs to exploit the job retention scheme was seen as shameful, with Liverpool having also done a u-turn after listening to their fans and others. The new Tottenham statement acknowledging the widespread disgust felt everywhere:

‘Indeed we have seen opposition from fans to fellow Premier League clubs accessing the CJRS too.’

Mike Ashley and Newcastle United now stand alone of major Premier League clubs owned by billionaires to be exploiting this taxpayer funded initiative (Bournemouth and Norwich now the only other two PL outfits to indicate they were intending to use the job retention scheme), will we now see Ashley issuing his own apology and u-turn…?

Tottenham official statement – Monday 13 April 2020:

Following yet another difficult week for our country, our thoughts continue to be with those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our profound thanks go to the NHS and all key workers for the invaluable roles they are fulfilling at this critical time.

The footballing world is now recognising the current and potential future impact of the pandemic. It has destabilised businesses, clubs and the sport we all love – along with the rest of the football eco-system and its dependents.

All clubs will be facing different pressures. The cessation of our Club’s operations, particularly given our stadium’s use as a multi-purpose venue, has come at a challenging time for us.

In addition to the postponement of football, we have had rugby, concerts, boxing events and conferences postponed or cancelled. Since our results for the year end 30 June 2019, our net debt has risen, as anticipated, as we continued to invest in the team and completed budgeted capital projects.

In these uncertain times, we have to ensure we are in a position to meet our financial obligations and protect the Club’s ability to be able to operate when football returns. However, we also need, importantly, to support our wider communities and the NHS. This has been a week when we have worked hard to do both.

In our last update we said we would keep our position under review, especially in the context of revised budgets and cost cutting. Having done so we have decided that all non-playing staff, whether full-time, casual or furloughed, will receive 100 per cent of their pay for April and May. Only the Board will take salary reductions.

With no clarity on when football might resume and under what conditions, we shall continue to keep this under on-going review. We should like to thank our staff for their incredible support and understanding.

We are acutely aware that many supporters were against the decision we made regarding furloughing staff who could not carry out their jobs from home – due to the nature of their work – and our intention to apply, if applicable, for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), a scheme designed to ensure that jobs and employment rights are protected.

Indeed we have seen opposition from fans to fellow Premier League clubs accessing the CJRS too. This once again underlines that we bear different pressures to other businesses, many of whom have and will continue to apply for support from the scheme as the Government intended.

In view of supporter sentiment regarding the scheme, it is now not our intention to make use of the current CJRS that runs until the end of May. We shall consult with stakeholders, including the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust with whom we have been in dialogue over the past week and who share our desire to protect jobs, should circumstances change going forward.

Daniel Levy, Chairman: “The criticism the Club has received over the last week has been felt all the more keenly because of our track record of good works and our huge sense of responsibility to care for those that rely on us, particularly locally.

“It was never our intent, as custodians, to do anything other than put measures in place to protect jobs whilst the Club sought to continue to operate in a self-sufficient manner during uncertain times.

“We regret any concern caused during an anxious time and hope the work our supporters will see us doing in the coming weeks, as our stadium takes on a whole new purpose, will make them proud of their Club.”

Daniel Levy statement today – Tuesday 31 March 2020;

‘As recently as 18 March I said: “We shall all need to work together to ensure the impact of this crisis does not undermine the future stability of the Club.” The decision by governments around the world to effectively close down economies with unheard of peacetime impacts on civil liberties in order to minimise the terrible effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the right one to protect human lives. The crushing devastation on industries in many countries, the inter-dependence of international trade and travel in every aspect of our daily life is only now beginning to be felt. Every person on this planet will be affected and in my lifetime I cannot think of something so impactful.

When I read or hear stories about player transfers this summer like nothing has happened, people need to wake up to the enormity of what is happening around us. With over 786,000 infected, nearly 38,000 deaths and large segments of the world in lockdown we need to realise that football cannot operate in a bubble. We maybe the eighth largest Club in the world by revenue according to the Deloitte survey but all that historical data is totally irrelevant as this virus has no boundaries.

The Club’s operations have effectively ceased, some of our fans will have lost their jobs and most will be worried about their future. Our sponsors will be concerned about their businesses and our media partners have no certainty when we may play games again or whether we will be allowed to play in front of our fans. In the meantime, the Club has an annual cost base running into hundreds of millions of pounds.

We have seen some of the biggest clubs in the world such as Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus take steps to reduce their costs. Yesterday, having already taken steps to reduce costs, we ourselves made the difficult decision – in order to protect jobs – to reduce the remuneration of all 550 non-playing directors and employees for April and May by 20% utilising, where appropriate, the Government’s furlough scheme. We shall continue to review this position.

We hope the current discussions between the Premier League, PFA and LMA will result in players and coaches doing their bit for the football eco system.

I have no doubt we will get through this crisis but life will take some time to get back to normal. I hope we will never take for granted so many basic things such as getting off the train at Seven Sisters, walking along Tottenham High Road, entering our stadium with our family and friends, and buying a beer and pie ahead of watching Spurs play at home.

Many families will have lost loved ones, many businesses will have been destroyed, millions of jobs lost and many Clubs whether big or small may struggle to exist. It is incumbent on me as Chairman to ensure we do everything we can to protect our employees, our fans, our partners, our Club for future generations – and equally important – our wider community where we have such an immense sense of responsibility.

I wish everyone good health, a speedy return to normal life and watching Spurs at home in front of our fans. Stay safe.’

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