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The disgraceful way some football staff are treated, and how the media respond

By Tony Attwood

You might recall how the media went bonkers when Arsenal made some of its talent spotting staff redundant.  There was as ever no comparison made with other clubs – Arsenal were simply singled out and hammered for several days in the press.

And yet when Liverpool behave in a far, far worse way to some of its staff, the criticism is far more muted.  The Daily Mail is an exception here and although on their web site it is a long way down its list of headlines they have still covered the situation.  Most of the media has left the matter, obeying the fundamental rule of football journalism: “Arsenal Bad, Liverpool Good,” have not touched it.

In essence Arsenal made a number of recruitment staff redundant which means that as long as they had been working for Arsenal for at least two years, they got statutory redundancy payment from the club.  It is also possible they got more because many employers have extra redundancy pay in the terms and conditions, but no one has revealed the contract details, so we don’t know.

Paying the statutory redundancy payment is a legal obligation and if it is not paid the ex-employee can make a claim.   The rate of pay is

  • half a week’s pay for each full year you were under 22
  • one week’s pay for each full year you were 22 or older, but under 41
  • one and half week’s pay for each full year you were 41 or older

Length of service is capped at 20 years.  If the redundancy was not a real redundancy but engineered to get rid of an employee then a claim against the employer can be made.

Now you may recall that although Arsenal took this route, and were hammered by the media for it, Liverpool FC instead announced pay cuts to all its staff because the club was short of money.  That might seem rather odd in the light of its recent activities in terms of trying to set up a European Super League with itself as a major administrator – a promotion that has cost vast sums in terms of senior execs flying the Atlantic, press conferences, etc.

After a lot of criticism about the way Liverpool’s casual staff were being treated, Liverpool did not make anyone redundant but instead left all their casual staff with no work to do.  That means they get no pay, and Liverpool don’t have to pay them any redundancy money.  As a result the workers of the club have now, according to a member of staff quoted by the Mail “set up charity to donate food and money to colleagues in need’ after being left in limbo by champions’ refusal to close tours and museum, despite most not ‘receiving any shifts at all.”

So having been attacked last April for furloughing their non-playing staff they have, as the Mail puts it, left some of its staff to fend for themselves because the tours and museums are technically still open, although hardly anyone shows up.

Now of course Untold Arsenal cannot verify these claims – we don’t have teams of journalists able to interview the people involved, and just as with our coverage of the Fifa legal cases in Switzerland and Trinidad, the building of the Qatar stadia for the world cup, using slave labour and so on, we rely on news sources to tell us what is going on.  And the Mail seems fairly certain it has got this one right.  If not, presumably Liverpool will sue them.

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The story is that “around 60 casual staff have had their hours significantly reduced amid a reduced footfall at Anfield, with many not being given any shifts at all despite relying on the income to feed their families.

“It has been alleged that Liverpool have refused to close their tour and museum centre in a bid to avoid having to compensate people for lack of earnings. It is understood that if the operations were closed, staff could have the option to take redundancy, but while it remains open they are left in limbo.”  Examples of staff having no work and thus no money, but getting no redundancy pay either, are published on the Mail’s website.

Liverpool’s spokesperson is quoted in the Mail as saying, “As a club we are very aware of the challenges that face our city and our staff and protecting the jobs of both our permanent and contracted workers has been our top priority.”

Meanwhile Liverpool is currently in Tier Three of lockdown as ordered by the government which makes it even less likely that anyone is going on a stadium tour.  And the club knows this.

The point is that Liverpool is endlessly talking big in terms of re-arranging football, and clearly is a very rich club, and yet while Arsenal actually ensured that its scouting staff got big pay outs and knew exactly where they were, the low paid staff at Liverpool FC are left with virtually nothing.  Yet Arsenal got hammered in the media, and Liverpool’s story is set aside (except in the Mail).

1-0 to the Mail for running this story and not being suckered into the normal media view that “if it’s Liverpool it must be ok”.

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