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Saracens furlough staff, ask high earners to defer wages

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London (AFP)

Champions Saracens have asked all employees earning over £75,000 ($94,000) to defer payment of their salaries until the start of the 2020/21 season and have furloughed staff due to the economic crisis caused by coronavirus.

The English Premiership has been suspended indefinitely due to social distancing measures, but the north London club will be relegated if and when the season does end due to persistent breaches of the division's salary cap.

The UK government's furlough scheme will guarantee 80 percent of wages up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

Premier League football clubs have been criticised for plans to use the system with Liverpool, Tottenham and Bournemouth pressured into a U-turn on using public money.

"Saracens will be participating in the government furloughing scheme and in addition have asked players and all employees earning over £75,000 to defer payment of their salaries, over and above this amount, until the start of the 2020/21 season," the three-time European champions said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The amounts deferred will be repaid over an 18-month period from the start of the 2020/21 season."

Despite facing a season in the second-tier Championship, they still boast a star-studded squad, including England captain Owen Farrell and internationals such as Maro Itoje, Billy and Mako Vunipola.

"COVID-19 has had huge ramifications on every facet of society and rugby is no different, this is not an easy time for the players and the club alike," said Itoje.

"In order to see this through, the whole organisation needs to pull together and do what we can for the future of Saracens RFC and our individual career’s within the sport."

Chairman Neil Golding added the club are confident they can secure the funding needed to steady their finances.

"The board are very optimistic that this is a short-term issue and are taking steps to secure future funding which will put the club on a very sound financial footing," said Golding.

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