Tottenham make u-turn on using coronavirus furlough scheme

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Daniel Levy | Tottenham

Tottenham have reversed their controversial decision to use the government's coronavirus furlough scheme to pay non-playing staff placed on temporary leave, and say they will now pay their employees' wages in full.

A club statement read: "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."

Spurs are the second Premier League club to perform a u-turn after initially announcing they would use the scheme, following Liverpool after both received heavy criticism.

Among those to criticise Spurs were their own supporters' club, while it has even been suggested that star player Harry Kane said he might leave as a result of the announcement.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy, who came in for the brunt of the criticism regarding the club's use of the furlough scheme, admitted his regret at having misjudged the situation.

He said: “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 while 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.”

The statement said Spurs would keep their wage policy under review should the current lockdown, which has stopped all football across Britain, continue beyond the next couple of months.

It also said that the postponement of football and other public events "has come at a challenging time for us", and that the club's debts have risen in the past year as they look to pay off their recently rebuilt 62,062-seater stadium.

The statement said: "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."

Following the reversals of both Liverpool and Tottenham, the three Premier League clubs using the government furlough scheme - in which businesses pay 20 per cent of staff wages with the rest coming from the taxpayer - are Bournemouth, Norwich City and Newcastle United.

Tottenham have also announced they are opening their stadium on White Hart Lane for use by the NHS, making it the first Premier League ground to be used as a facility for coronavirus testing.

The club said equipment has been installed to allow "drive-through COVID-19 testing and swabbing for NHS staff, families and their dependents", and will also house the women's outpatient services of North Middlesex Hospital, meaning pregnant women can be treated away from the hospital during the pandemic.

English football has come under scrutiny amid the coronavirus pandemic, however a group of Premier League stars - led by Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson - have launched the Players Together initiative to generate funds to support the NHS.