Coronavirus financial fallout: Jeremy Corbyn urges Arsenal to rethink plans to make 55 staff redundant
- Credit: PA
Jeremy Corbyn has urged Arsenal to “look at ways of protecting everyone’s jobs”, rather than push through 55 staff redundancies at the Premier League club, in the wake of the financial fallout from coronavirus.
Bosses at the club - owned by American businessman Enos Stanley Kroenke whose net worth is estimated to be about $8bn - have said it is facing “more significant and longer-lasting reductions in our revenue than we all hoped”.
Match day income, broadcasting and commercial activity have all been “hit severely” as a result of the pandemic, according to a statement co-signed by head of football Raul Sanllehi, and managing director Vinai Venkatesham.
In all likelihood fans will not be able to return to the Emirates Stadium for the start of the 2020-21 season and only in limited numbers after that.
The club, which won a record 14th FA Cup against Chelsea on Saturday, is facing one of the “most challenging periods” in its 134-year history, they said, adding that the decision to propose redundancies had “not been taken lightly”.
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“We know this is upsetting and difficult for our dedicated staff and our focus is on managing this as sensitively as possible,” they concluded.
But MP for Islington North Jeremy Corbyn urged the board to have a rethink.
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“I hope in the current situation that they would recognise that the club has many loyal staff, some of whom are not well paid, and I hope that in the consultation process that follows today’s news they will be able to look at ways to protecting the jobs of everyone at the club and people that have served the club so well,” he said.
He congratulated the club on its FA Cup win, saying the whole community “has been buoyed by their success”.
He also acknowledged the “massive contribution” that Arsenal in the Community makes to Islington from positively impacting young people’s lives through sport, and how it has handed out 30,000 free meals through foodbanks throughout the coronavirus crisis.
When Mr Kroenke put in a bid to take complete control of the club in 2018, a letter to shareholders stated: “Mr Kroenke has always made it a priority to invest not only in sports teams themselves, but also communities which surround and support them.”
Most of the proposed redundancies - which will be consulted on over the next 30 days - are in the commercial and administration departments. Staff benefits, capital projects and discretionary projects will also be cut, but investments in playing staff and transfer plans remain unaffected.
The Gunners’ first-team players and head coach Mikel Arteta agreed a 12.5 per cent pay cut in April, and Arsenal’s executive team agreed to waive more than a third of their salaries over 12 months.