Over the last few years, Liverpool have developed a reputation as one of the best sporting institutions in the world to work for, with, or alongside.
‘It’s like a family’ is the line you so often hear, whether it be from the groundskeepers and the catering staff on the periphery or the players and coaches at the centre of it all.
They’re the last club you would expect to defer the payment of staff wages to the government in a time of national crisis.
#LFC is continuing to deal with a range of challenges caused by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and would like to update supporters on the progress that has been made to date. https://t.co/0QAiCSVDv6
— Liverpool FC (at ) (@LFC) April 4, 2020
That’s what they announced they would do on Saturday, however, and that announcement has been met with a rare show of unity in fans from all parts of the country, and all walks of life.
Every single one of them was disgusted.
This was a serious, reckless, grave error of judgement, and one that will likely have consequences far greater than £2.25m they are projected to save (per Goal).
Even when you consider that they will make up the 20% of salary not covered by the government’s job retention scheme, even when you consider they will pay anything over and above the £2,500 cap imposed by Westminster, and even when you consider they claim to be ‘fully committed’ to ensuring no member of staff is out of pocket; this could not have been handled more poorly.
Danny Murphy: “Liverpool using the Government’s furlough scheme to pay cleaners and other non-playing staff is grotesque. It wasn’t introduced for Premier League clubs who have more than enough money to look after their own.” https://t.co/kh511Sq8BX
— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) April 4, 2020
A business decision was made to save some money in a time when their revenue streams will be hit hard. But t
In context, they’ve saved some pocket change, but what they failed to consider is the message it sends to staff and the wider footballing community.
I criticised Spurs for it earlier in the week, and I’ll criticise my own club for it now. There is absolutely no excuse for Liverpool Football Club to furlough anyone. Pay the staff FSG. You’ve sold all the tickets for the rest of the season. Theres no excuse for this at all
— Wayne (@Gunga__Din) April 4, 2020
Instead, they’ve put their foot in it and said ‘we’ve got money to make, someone else can do it instead.’
With one financially-motivated decision, the corporate masterminds, who might as well be working on another planet, have shown they could not be further removed from the football operation they so graciously profit from.
To Jurgen Klopp, Vicky Jepson, Michael Edwards and everyone involved with Liverpool FC as a football club right down to ground level, the Bill Shankly mantra of compassion before anything else is alive and well.
Jurgen Klopp showed compassion for all at the start of this pandemic, senior players heavily involved in @premierleague players taking wage cuts. Then all that respect & goodwill is lost, poor this @LFC https://t.co/9bE8Rw1veE
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) April 4, 2020
That was apparent in Klopp’s heartfelt message to supporters last week. It was apparent when the news emerged that Jordan Henderson proactively organised a movement among Premier League captains to donate a percentage of wages to the NHS – the priceless health service whose value can know no bounds at the best of times, let alone now
At a football club, there’s a holy trinity: the players, the manager and the supporters. Directors don’t come into it. They are only there to sign the cheques. – Bill Shankly
It’s no surprise that within a day of the decision, reports were already emerging of discontent among the senior players.
“There was also said to be frustration among Liverpool players that the club had announced the decision to furlough staff just as their captain Henderson had received public acclaim for attempting to rally support for the NHS.” – @TheAthleticUK https://t.co/34N5FU8I61
— Anfield Edition (@AnfieldEdition) April 4, 2020
Liverpool Football Club Limited is a corporation which finances Liverpool FC, the football team. But now, more than ever, it’s important to remember that it is no more than that.
The difference is simple. Those who run the club at boardroom level have a fundamental misunderstanding of what the club is about. They often make the right call, but at the heart of it is always financial gain. That’s the only explanation as to why they were able to overlook the startling human implications of publicly invoking a legal loophole to put its own staff on the government payroll instead of their own.
To Liverpool FC, the team and the community, who have a clear understanding of the ethos that keeps the fans, staff and players together as one, that is unfathomable.
Astonished by the news that @lfc takes advantage of the furlough scheme to claim 80 % of non playing staffs wages back of the government. That’s not what the scheme was designed for. Contrary to the morals and values of the club i got to know
— Didi Hamann (@DietmarHamann) April 4, 2020
The situation is a sad reminder that even the seemingly untouchable Liverpool, who have been the gold standard for decision-making at all levels, are not immune to the cutthroat, cash-first nature of modern football.
But even more crucially, it underlines the separation between the company in the football club.
Millionaire corporations will always be millionaire corporations however you dress them up, but now more than ever, Liverpool – club, players, fans and staff – are something to be proud of.