Sheffield United furlough staff but may not ask for Government money

Sheffield United will furlough non-playing staff, but have not yet decided if they will ask the Government for assistance.

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Premier League clubs using the Government's Coronovirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) has been a controversial topic in the Premier League for the last two weeks. Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United, Bournemouth and Norwich City have all furloughed non-playing staff, despite continuing to pay their players in full whilst negotiations over their salaries continue.

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At the start of the week, the Blades had been considering doing likewise, but held off when they saw the backlash will followed Liverpool's announcement they would do likewise. The champions-elect quickly reversed the decision, and Manchester United, Manchester City and Burnley have all said they will not furlough staff, while Southampton have committed not to do so until at least the end of June.

EMPTY: Bramall Lane has not hosted a match since March 7, and it could months before it does again

After a few days' reflection, the Blades will now press ahead with their plan to furlough predominantly casual employees and a small number of permanent staff unable to do their jobs during the coronavirus lockdown and the indefinite suspension of matches.

The Job Retention Scheme, which is due to be launched on April 20, is open to businesses of all types and sizes, allows companies to put staff on leave, with the Government paying 80 per cent of their wages.

What is less widely known is that companies can furlough employees without asking for Government assistance, freeing them up to sign up for the NHS volunteering scheme or similar initiatives until they are needed back at their permanent jobs.

Sheffield United will ensure all staff are paid in full while furloughed, an option Bournemouth and Norwich have taken up, but which Spurs and Newcastle have not publicly said they will do.

“At a later date, after the full financial impact of the situation can be more accurately quantified, the club will assess whether or not to participate in the JRS,” read a club statement.

It is estimated the Blades could lose around £42m if the Premier League is unable to complete the 2019-20 season as it hopes.

In anticipation of greater-than-expected prize money this season, the Bramall Lane board sanctioned the £22m signing of Norwegian midfielder Sander Berge in January. It was the fifth time the club has broken its transfer record since winning promotion last summer.

Chris Wilder's side are seventh in the Premier League with 10 matches to play, one more than the teams directly above. If they were to finish there, it would qualify them for a first European campaign. They are also in the FA Cup quarter-finals.