Leeds United’s entire first-team playing staff and manager Marcelo Bielsa have agreed to take a wages deferral to support non-playing staff at the Championship club.
Bielsa and his squad have volunteered to waive a large chunk of their wages for an unspecified period after football in England was put on hold until April 30 at the earliest in the wake of the Coronavirus.
The Whites, top of the Championship and seven points clear of third-placed Fulham before the professional game was halted, are the first club in England to announce such measures. They could now open the door for other clubs to follow suit.
The club are determined not to make anyone redundant during this unprecedented crisis and Bielsa, his staff, the players and senior management team have offered to defer part of their salaries for the foreseeable future.
The players took the decision at a meeting with chief executive Angus Kinnear and director of football Victor Orta and their gesture means the club can continue to pay their 272 full-time employees and the majority of their causal staff.
In a joint statement the players said: “Leeds United is a family. This is the culture that has been created by everyone at the club, from the players and the board to the staff and the supporters in the stands.
“We face uncertain times and therefore it is important that we all work together to find a way that the club can push through this period and end the season in the way we all hope we can.
“In the meantime, let’s work as one to listen to the government advice and the health service and beat this virus.”
— stuart dallas (@dallas_stuart) March 22, 2020
Orta has thanked his staff and their players for the generous gesture, saying: “My players have demonstrated an incredible sense of unity and togetherness and I am proud of their actions.
“To Marcelo and his staff and all of the players, we thank them for putting our wider team first and taking care of family.
“Now we must focus on public health, and when the people are safe, finish what we started. Vamos carajo.”
It remains to be seen what solution will be decided for promotion and relegation, with Euro 2020 having already been put back until next year to help allow for any extension to the campaign when it is deemed safe to resume.
Radrizzani on worldwide football crisis
Radrizzani accepts the global crisis of the coronavirus will have wide-ranging implications off the field but hopes a positive resolution can be found.
In a live interview with Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio, the Leeds owner reflected on the implications of an unexpected sudden loss of revenue brought about by the pandemic.
“A disaster unfortunately (for the economic implications of world football)” Radrizzani said.
“To be competitive, a club like ours loses £8million to £10m every year and nobody wants to keep a business that loses money every year.
“This situation aggravates the budget. Not having five home games, we will lose about £2.5m, which are the only source of revenues since such figures do not come from TV rights.
“This epidemic aggravates this situation, which is already normally complicated.”