In Brief

Liverpool slammed for furlough move as football’s civil war rages on

A round-up of the sport headlines from UK newspapers on 6 April

Civil war rages on

One story dominates the back pages and that is the increasingly ugly civil war that is raging within the top flight of English football. 

“Revolt” is the single word headline in the Daily Mirror, below headshots of all 20 Premier League captains.

The paper says that the skippers have formed a WhatsApp group to fight what they believe is the “disgusting” proposal for 30% pay cuts that they believe have been designed to ease the burden of wealthy club owners. 

“Blame game” is the headline in Metro, which reports the comments on social media of Gary Neville.

The former Manchester United star turned pundit laments the “terrible” response of the Premier League to the coronavirus crisis and listed five areas in which they have mismanaged the situation, including the “PR disaster” of furloughing non-playing staff.

The Guardian describes the talks between players and clubs as “deadlocked” after attempts to reach a collective pay agreement during discussions on Saturday broke down. 

As a result, says the paper, clubs are ready to “start individual negotiations over wage reductions with their players”.

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Reds slammed

Liverpool’s owners won’t enjoy reading the sports headlines this morning after their decision to furlough non-playing staff by what The Guardian describes as “piggybacking on a government scheme to stop mass unemployment”. 

As the paper remarks, this will leave a bad taste in the mouth given that Liverpool are the world’s seventh-richest club with an annual wage bill of £310m, not to mention the £43m they paid to agents last year.

“Shanks for nothing” is the headline on the back page of The Sun with the paper reporting on the open letter penned to Peter Moore, the club’s chief executive, by Liverpool supporters’ group Spirit of Shankly (SOS). 

Describing the “overwhelmingly negative fan reaction to the club’s announcement”, SOS warns of the “damage this is causing to our club’s reputation and values”.

The Times also reports the anger of the Spirit of Shankly group, and contrasts Liverpool’s actions with those of Manchester City, the first Premier League side to announce that they will not take advantage of the government’s job-retention scheme. 

In a scathing piece, the Times’s football correspondent Henry Winter writes: “In claiming furlough for many staff, Liverpool’s board, including the owner John W Henry and chairman Tom Werner, have acted with naked capitalism, offending the spirit of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and insulting the legacy of Bill Shankly.”

June restart for Premier League?

The Daily Mirror claims an exclusive with its report that the Premier League and the government are in “advanced” discussions about a resumption of football in June. 

If such a move happens, it would be on the understanding that matches are played behind closed doors. Apparently the government has tentatively agreed to finishing the season - providing the coronavirus pandemic begins to ease in the coming weeks. 

Not only would the nine remaining rounds of matches be played behind closed doors but there would be “extensive measures to keep the players in a sterile environment as much as possible, limiting contact with the wider public”. 

The Mirror adds that to reduce the risk of fans congregating outside stadiums on match days to get a glimpse of their heroes, discussions have been held with broadcasters about the possibility of showing matches on free-to-air tv.

Today’s sport headlines

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