CELTIC have furloughed their entire Under-18 squad as a result of the latest coronavirus restrictions, it has been reported.
The Daily Mail claims that Celtic’s Under-18 boss Darren O’Dea informed 18 of the club’s academy stars of the news yesterday morning.
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It is claimed the Hoops will take advantage of the UK Government coronavirus job retention scheme to let taxpayers pick up the tab for 80 per cent of their young stars’ salary, while continuing to pay the remaining 20 per cent.
With players banned from training or playing games, the furlough has been put in place for three weeks, although the scheme is subject to review.
And now other Scottish Premiership clubs could do likewise.
The move comes hot on the heels of the controversial decision taken by the club’s hierarchy to send their top team stars out to a winter training camp in Dubai.
Chief executive Peter Lawwell apologised to the club’s supporters yesterday for that move.
But the Mail claims there is anger amongst relatives of the young stars, with one unnamed parent quoted as saying it “doesn’t seem right.”
The Hoops also placed some non-playing staff on furlough last April, with the first-team squad, manager Neil Lennon, backroom staff and executives also agreeing to “significant reductions” in salaries and deferring “a significant proportion of their earnings”
Upon returning to Scotland from Dubai, Christopher Jullien then tested positive for the virus which led to 13 first-team players being forced to self isolate along with three members of coaching staff.
That resulted in a 1-1 draw with Hibs at Celtic Park on evening all but ending the club’s hopes of winning their tenth title on the trot, with rivals Rangers 21 points clear at the top of the table.
The Joint Response Group took the decision to suspend all professional football beneath the SPFL championship earlier this week.
That was on the back of updated guidance from the Scottish Government warning that everyone aged 12 or over is barred from group exercise with more than one other household.
PROFOUNDLY APOLOGISE Celtic chief Lawwell admits Dubai trip was a mistake and apologises to supporters but says criticism is unfair
Representatives of all 42 clubs met yesterday to discuss the move to put the leagues on hold.
League One, League Two, the Highland and Lowland Leagues, and the Women’s Premier Leagues 1 and 2, are all suspended until January 31.
While the East, South and West of Scotland Leagues, Scottish Junior FA Leagues and North Caledonian League will also be affected.
All Scottish Cup ties scheduled to be played before February will also be postponed and rescheduled.
Falkirk chairman Gary Deans has accused SPFL bosses of making the Championship “carry the can”for failings across the entire game.