Senior Tory MP condemns Premier League clubs' 'indefensible' decision to use taxpayer cash to pay staff
Liverpool reversed their decision to apply to the Government's jobs scheme (PA)
A senior Tory MP has hit out at the Premier League for defending the decision of some wealthy football clubs to use taxpayers' cash to pay staff wages.
Spurs and Newcastle are among those to take advantage of the Government's 'Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme' to help pay the wages of their non-playing staff.
It sees the Treasury pick up the tab for 80% of the salary of workers kept on the payroll by their employees during the crisis.
Liverpool also signed up to the scheme, but performed a U-turn after an outcry by their supporters.
Julian Knight, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, wrote to Premier League chief executive Richard Masters urging him to broker an agreement between clubs to change their approach.
In response he said: “The furlough scheme announced by government is meant for the whole economy, including many enterprises which might be regarded as providing entertainment or otherwise dependent on elite talent.
“We do agree that restraint needs to be shown by all and we and our clubs are doing just that.
“Individual clubs will need to make these decisions based on their own forecast, as each club will have its own position.”
Mr Knight said: “It is frankly laughable to think that clubs are showing restraint on use of government money to pay non-playing staff and flies in the face of public opinion.
“Liverpool has listened to fans, done the right thing and changed its mind. It is time for the Premier League to stop defending the indefensible.
“They should be working out a way to carry on paying the wages of club staff without resorting to taking money from the government scheme.”
Last week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said high-earning Premier League stars should "take a pay cut" while football is put on hold during the Covid-19 pandemic.
But the Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hit back, insisting footballers are an "easy target" and calling it unfair to single them out.
Speaking to Sky Sports he said: "For me it's unfair to call on any individual or footballers as a group because I already know players do a great amount of work in the community, and players are doing a lot to help this situation.
"Discussions are taking place between players and clubs, what kind of contribution they'll make. It's not easy for anyone, and to be called out is not fair for me.”
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