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Covid-19: Strategies for UK sports organisations preparing for end of furlough

Team meeting
Friday, 24 September 2021 By Serena Nicholls, Tabitha Juster

After a year and a half, and multiple iterations and extensions, the ground-breaking furlough scheme (officially the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme[1]) is set to end on 30 September 2021.[2] Furlough is a temporary leave of absence for employees due to special needs of a company or employer, which may be due to economic conditions of a specific employer or in society as a whole[3]

Many organisations in the sports sector have taken advantage of the furlough scheme since its introduction, including elite sports organisations. Clubs in England’s Premier League and Championship claimed at least £13m in the first four months of the scheme[4]. Some top clubs continued to furlough employees after that; it was reported that Leeds United and Newcastle United both claimed between £100,000-£250,000 in December 2020 alone[5]. The use of the furlough scheme by top football clubs has not been without controversy. The Chair of the DCMS select committee called out clubs for “using government money to pay their non-playing staff while at the same time paying top wages to star players”[6].  Some clubs reversed their decision to furlough staff after criticism from club supporters[7].

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Written by

Serena Nicholls

Serena Nicholls

Serena is a counsel at Farrer & Co. and specialises in employment law and has a wealth of experience in supporting both employers and individuals on complex legal issues. Her employer clients include large organisations such as well-known charities and institutions. 

Tabitha Juster

Tabitha Juster

Tabitha is an Associate at Farrer & Co. She specialises in all aspects of employment law and represents organisations and senior individuals in both contentious and non-contentious matters.

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