Liverpool chairman Tom Werner has admitted the club made a mistake when they announced plans to furlough staff amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Reds’ owners Fenway Sports Group faced a backlash from fans when they revealed in early April they planned to take advantage of the Government scheme to pay 80% of staff wages up to £2,500 a month.
Within 48 hours they had reversed their decision after fierce criticism of plans to use taxpayers’ cash while Liverpool’s multi-millionaire first-team stars would still be paid by the club.
The row was reminiscent of when the Reds raised ticket prices to as much as £77, which led to a mass walkout at Anfield in February 2016.
And Werner said the quick U-turn over the furlough scheme showed FSG’s commitment to the club and its fans.
“It’s better to admit a mistake than to dig your heels in,” Werner said in quotes reported by the Daily Mail.
‘Hopefully people will know that all we really care about is trying to support the fans and support our players and our club in a way that is sustainable.”
Liverpool are two wins away from ending their 30-year top-flight title drought after amassing a hue 25-point lead at the top of the Premier League before football was halted by coronavirus.
Werner, who is one of the key figures at FSG alongside John W Henry and Mike Gordon, is looking forward to the Premier League’s planned resumption next month, but stressed that safety has to be the primary concern amid the pandemic.
“It’s a terrible situation we’re all in,” he said. “Someday, hopefully, there will be a vaccine and we can return to the joy of being in a stadium and watching the elegant play of great football players.
“The most important thing is safety and the Premier League are working on protocols. But there’s a hole in so many people’s lives. Football is central to their dreams and their hopes.
“Certainly, as regards to Liverpool, we are playing magnificent football and we are just a couple of matches away from winning the trophy. But I do put it in perspective.”
Werner is approaching 10 years in charge at Liverpool, and has seen FSG’s efforts rewarded by success in the past year with the club winning the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup.
But he picked as his highlight last season’s 4-0 Champions League semi-final win over Barcelona, which saw the Reds incredibly overturn a 3-0 deficit from the first leg.
“The 4-0 win over Barcelona (in the semi-final) was the single greatest sporting event I’ve ever seen,” Werner said. “The reaction our supporters had in the stadium that day and around the world is something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
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