Leeds United players and coaching staff to defer wages during coronavirus pandemic

Players and coaching staff at Leeds United have become the first at a professional English football club to defer their wages during the coronavirus pandemic, to ensure that no-one at the Championship side loses their jobs.

English football has been suspended until at least April 30 due to the Covid-19 outbreak, leaving several lower league clubs concerned about the loss of matchday and broadcasting revenue.

A statement released by Leeds on Thursday morning said that manager Marcelo Bielsa, along with the players and the senior management, have offered to defer part of their salaries while football is on hold because of the virus.

It said the players had met with club chief executive Angus Kinnear and director of football Victor Orta, and means they can continue to pay their 272 full-time employees and the majority of casual staff employed at their Elland Road stadium and Thorp Arch training facility.

The statement reads: "The spread of the Covid-19 virus has seen the UK and many other nations around the world in a state of 'lockdown' and while there is a shared commitment to complete the season, the lack of fixtures, cancellation of events and closure of the football financing market will cost the club several million pounds each month.

"The decision was made by the squad to defer part of their own salaries to ensure that the club can continue to pay all members of full-time staff and the majority of casual staff for the coming months."

Luke Ayling Leeds Championship play-offs 2018-19

A collective statement from the Leeds squad said the club would work together to get through the current crisis and urged fans to listen to official advice about how to combat coronavirus.

They said: "Leeds United is a family, this is the culture that has been created by everyone at the club, from the players and the board to the staff and the supporters in the stands.

"We face uncertain times and therefore it is important that we all work together to find a way that the club can push through this period and end the season in the way we all hope we can.

"In the meantime, let’s work as one to listen to the government advice and the health service and beat this virus."

Orta added: “My players have demonstrated an incredible sense of unity and togetherness and I am proud of their actions. To Marcelo and his staff and all of the players, we thank them for putting our wider team first and taking care of family.

"Now we must focus on public health, and when the people are safe, finish what we started. Vamos carajo.”

Leeds are currently top of England's second tier with nine games remaining in the 2019-20 league season.

The three-time First Division champions had looked set for a return to the Premier League for the first time since 2004, before the season was suspended.