Newcastle owner Ashley pulls plug on staff wages but players still getting paid

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has become the first Premier League chief to stop paying staff – by ordering scores onto furlough.

While Steve Bruce's players and coaching chiefs, who collectively earn £100m, remain on full pay for now, most of the general workforce are sidelined as the coronavirus panic threatens to cause a cash crisis in the game.

They include staff from the club's charity arm, the Newcastle United Foundation.

Last week they were working to deliver food parcels and contacting elderly season ticket holders – but have now been ordered to stop work and claim their wages from the Government.

The move will hardly make a dent in the club's costs – and questions are being asked as to why staff who make up a fraction of the club's wage bill are taking the first hit and suffering.

St James' Park employees were told by email at 9am on Monday to sign up for the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which gives workers 80pc of their wages up to a maximum of £2,500.

Staff at the Academy, scouts, and media and admin workers have all been sidelined, but no-one working with the first team.

Premier League clubs have been discussing wage cuts or deferrals for players, and action is likely to be agreed collectively.

However it is believed to be a highly sensitive issue. Players are more likely to accept a wage deferral.

Even Premier League clubs are concerned about cash flow with matchday revenues wiped out by football's shut-down.

Newcastle's annual income is £180m and would appear to have leeway in the cautious way the club has been run to take a hit, but others do not.

Last week Leeds United players and coaching staff including Marcelo Bielsa agreed to take a wage deferral so that non-playing staff could be paid.

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