Sunderland furlough entire first-team squad amid coronavirus crisis

Sunderland have have furloughed first-team players, contracted academy players and backroom staff.

The Black Cats became the second Sky Bet League One club after Portsmouth to utilise the Government's job retention scheme to cover 80 per cent of employees' wages, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

Sunderland added there was "no intention to ask any players or staff to take a wage reduction or deferral on their salary" and that all employees will be paid in full.

A statement on the club's official website read: "Sunderland AFC can today confirm that its first-team players, contracted academy players and backroom staff have recently been placed on furlough leave due to the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"A small number of staff, including manager Phil Parkinson, continue to work from home, and the club's priority remains the health and wellbeing of its players, staff, supporters and local community during this unprecedented period."

Meanwhile, Newcastle United are under growing pressure from fans to reverse their decision to take tax-payer cash to pay staff.

As champions-elect Liverpool have apologised and changed their decision to use the Job Retention Scheme to benefit football.

But Newcastle are understood to be sticking with their decision to put non-playing staff, including scouts, on furlough leave so the Government pays 80pc of their wages up to £2,500.

The Geordies were the first football club to take advantage of a tax-payer subsidy, despite it being a tiny proportion of their wage bill.

Steve Bruce's playing squad earns more than £100m and have yet to announce a pay cut or charity donation.

Newcastle are believed to be in a solid financial position and capable of weathering the current storm with income of £179m a year, and a surplus of around £50m per season to spend on transfers, before player sales.

However that will be demolished if clubs in the top flight have to pay back TV revenue if they can't complete the suspended season.

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