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Mike Ashley refuses to allow Newcastle United to pay for virus testing of cup opponents

4 weeks ago
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Mike Ashley is the only Premier League owner that is furloughing staff.

The Chronicle having reported that the Newcastle United owner is keeping a number of staff, including some of the scouting / recruitment team, on furlough until the very bitter end, when the taxpayer funded scheme is set to come to a close at the end of October.

Mike Ashley having used the Government scheme to help pay many of his NUFC employees over the course of the virus crisis.

Other Premier League clubs announced plans to furlough but were swiftly shamed into cancelling any idea of doing so, as the media and public rightfully pointed out that billionaire owners of football clubs who pay their players millions of pounds a year and who continue to spend tens of millions in the transfer market, are not who the furlough scheme was designed to be used by. Norwich City were the only other PL club to furlough staff and at the time they were already all but relegated.

Not willing to allow Newcastle United to spend a penny that they don’t have to, we now have yet another example of relative penny pinching that could have consequences.

Whilst all Premier League clubs are repeatedly testing their players for the virus on a regular basis, to prevent any spread of it and to protect players, whilst also ensuring all matches go ahead, it is a different matter outside the top tier.

For EFL clubs testing is not a requirement for clubs, an acceptance that the extra expense of regular testing is an unrealistic expectation, especially in these cash strapped times of no fans allowed into stadiums.

However, the League (Carabao) Cup was always going to be problematic, regularly tested Premier League clubs up against lower league clubs, most of whom are never getting tested, unless symptoms are showing.

Many Premier League clubs have decided that there is no alternative but for them to cover the cost of any lower league opponents being tested. So as to do everything they can to prevent any spread of it to their club and to protect players, whilst also ensuring all Premier League matches go ahead as well as the League Cup ones hopefully.

One club doing this is Tottenham, set to play Orient tonight, they paid for their opponents to be tested ahead of the match.

The tests showed that the majority of Leyton Orient’s first team squad were positive for the virus, Orient announcing on Monday lunchtime that they had closed their stadium and training ground until further notice, with a decision yet to be announced as to whether the game will be cancelled, or go ahead with only players who tested negative.

As well as Tottenham, a number of other Premier League clubs have also gone public, confirming that the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and West Ham have all forked out to ensure that their squad are safe and minimise the risk of spreading the virus.

So what about Mike Ashley and Newcastle United?

Has the owner allowed the club to pay for Morecambe to be tested ahead of Wednesday night’s match?

Steve Bruce was asked the question at his pre-match press conference and revealed that Mike Ashley has refused to allow an offer to be made to Morecambe to pay for their players to be tested ahead of the game:

“We haven’t asked for Morecambe to be tested.

“I know in the Premier League that what gives everybody solace, is that we have been tested [for the virus].

“There are 90 or 100 of us tested twice a week [at Newcastle United] and people are secure that they [know they are] working in an environment where there is no virus here.

“I think that should be across the board in the Football League too, although I am aware of the costs of these tests.

“It’s been highlighted with what’s happened between Leyton Orient and Spurs.”

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