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Club furlough reversals show that fan power is still alive and well

Fan groups at Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have welcomed club decisions to reverse staff furloughs, as executives at both outfits listened to their supporters’ concerns.

Last week both clubs said they would stop using the government’s Coronvarius Job Retention Scheme.

In Spurs’ case, around 550 employees would have received 80% of their salaries up to £2,500 a month, while Liverpool had committed to the 200 staff receiving their full salary with the club making up the remaining 20%.

There was widespread surprise at the announcements, coming on the back of strong financial reports, with both sides having reached the Champions League final in 2019.

FSA affiliates at each club led calls for a reversal with Spirit of Shankly (SOS) saying “our belief is that no million-pound plus profit-making organisation should be relying on tax-payer subsidies in times of crises”.

Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust (THST) asked their club for transparency and pointed out the wider reputational damage. “This anger is not exclusive to the Spurs community, but the club’s reputation as a wealthy and well-run business means it is in the spotlight,” said THST.

A change in direction

Following days of lobbying both clubs ultimately reveresed their decisions. In a letter to their fans, Liverpool chief executive Peter Moore said: “We believe we came to the wrong conclusion last week and are truly sorry for that.”

Meanwhile Spurs’ Levy said: “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.”

THST said in a statement: “It takes maturity and humility to reverse such a contentious and public decision and we’re pleased that, rather than doubling down, the club’s board has listened to the fans on this occasion and ultimately done the right thing.

“No organisation is going to get everything right in these unprecedented circumstances and the eventual outcome is what matters.

“We’re delighted for the club’s non-playing staff and we thank the club’s directors for finding an alternative way forward. This is the first step, but a big step, in restoring relations between fans and the club.”

Spirit of Shankly said: “[We] welcome the club’s honesty, change in plan and willingness to listen and be involved in productive dialogue with several parties. They have also made assurances that the welfare of their staff is paramount.

“This news is the best possible outcome SOS members and Liverpool supporters could have hoped for. As ever it once again shows unity is strength.”

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