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Liverpool Back Out of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Following Backlash

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The extreme backlash to reports the club would be taking government money appear to have forced a rethink.

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Premier League Matches Called Off Over Coronavirus Concerns Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

In a move that should make a lot of Liverpool fans happy, the club today have backtracked on their reported recent decision to furlough workers while having 80% paid for by the British government while the club sought to make those workers whole by way of covering the remaining 20% of their wages.

With big name pundits like Gary Lineker and ex-Reds like Jamie Carragher coming out hard against the initial decision while Liverpool fans and rivals alike mocked the club for at least appearing to go against their You’ll Never Walk Alone motto and socialist roots, it was perhaps only a matter of time.

“Allowing for perspective in these unprecedented and harrowing times,” began a letter on the matter to supporters from CEO Peter Moore, “it is important to address an issue we, as an organisation, have been involved in since the weekend.

“A range of possible scenarios were considered, including applying to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme; applying to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme with a guarantee to reimburse monies received at a later date; and, thirdly, finding an alternative means to cover our furlough costs.

“It is as a direct result of this extensive consultation and our own internal deliberations at various levels throughout the club that we have opted to find alternative means despite our eligibility to apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.”

For those who saw the club taking government money as something of an insult to the larger public good given their standing and recent profits, it is a clear win, though one that may have unintended consequences should the current crisis drag out.

It is also a decision that will mean less government money coming into the city of Liverpool at a time when every dollar that arrives that way—if one assumes the club wouldn’t have been depositing the savings into John Henry’s bank account—is an extra dollar for the economy of Liverpool and its workers that wouldn’t have otherwise existed.

Given the pundit and public backlash, though, it’s a move the club likely had to make, even if options such as committing to push savings from using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme into local charitable endeavours as additional funding following the end of the crisis might have, from an economic and moral standpoint, represented the best of all worlds.