Bluebirds under fire for furloughed players.
Barrow AFC have come under scrutiny for their use of the Government’s furlough scheme, after it was revealed that the club have utilised the programme to pay players, according to an article on The Athletic.
Despite being one of the few clubs not to make use of the Coronavirus Job Retentions Scheme last year, the Holker Street side have since offered furloughed wages to at least six players, said to include Connor Brown and Sam Hird, deemed surplus to requirements.
In a statement made to The Athletic, the club explained that players not in manager Michael Jolley’s plans were offered the choice of going on furlough “in order to save them travel costs and the potential risk of commuting to training during the pandemic.”
Should the players in question accept the terms, they will continue to be paid their full wage, with the club pointing out that no player will be financially compromised as a result. Up to 80% of those wages, however, will be covered by the Government scheme introduced last year to help businesses avoid making redundancies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whilst the club’s revenue has been hit hard by the pandemic due to the lack of crowds, the move has been especially criticised as it follows a busy transfer window in which the club signed nine new players. This has left a sour taste in the mouths of some fans, with supporters group The Bluebirds Trust relaying those concerns to the AFC board, including chairman Paul Hornby.
“The Bluebirds Trust was recently made aware of the possibility of utilising the furlough scheme. We fed back our concerns through our Board Representative over the use of the scheme, however we understand the business reasons behind the Club’s decision,” read a Trust statement.
“Today our Board Representative again spoke to Paul Hornby on this matter so that we could provide as much as is possible.”
As part of the feedback to the group, the football club outlined that, under normal circumstances, they would have tried to find loan deals or permanent moves for the players, but the uncertainty and potential curtailment of the season in the leagues below Barrow have meant that this wasn’t possible as yet.
“From the club’s perspective, this situation amounts to restraint on the Club’s ability to trade. The offers were made to the individuals affected voluntarily as part of a range of options, with no financial disadvantages resulting from it,” the statement continued.
“We understand the differing opinions on this matter from the fanbase and reflected them. We accept that the decision taken reflects on us as part owners and custodians of Barrow AFC to ensure the stable longevity of the club for our community.”
The revelation comes less than a fortnight after National League side Chesterfield F.C. took similar steps to ease their wage bill by placing ‘a small group of players’ on furlough.