- in Environment
Ulster Rugby have put all players and coaching staff on furlough during the current period of inaction caused by the coronavirus health crisis.
Club chief executive Jonny Petrie says around 70% of the organisation’s 183 staff have been placed on the UK government’s job retention scheme.
He explained that Ulster were topping up wages to an agreed deferred level of salary across the IRFU.
“Everyone understands the situation and wants to work together,” said Petrie.
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“We have to protect the business so that when we come out of this, we are are at least as strong as when we went in,” he added.
“Reaching agreement with players was not a particularly challenging process as everyone sees it as fair in the present climate and environment.
“We will review the employment situation as we go through the next few weeks when we have some clarity, can plan around facts and an environment exists for our players to return and work and take part in structured training.”
Ulster have not played since beating Cheetahs in the Pro14 at Kingspan Stadium on 22 February and like all sectors and organisations are facing financial pressures because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘A really challenging environment’
“Like thousands of other businesses in Northern Ireland, we have seen a really challenging environment with the current situation,” Petrie added.
“I’m not saying we are in a really precarious position but obviously the longer this goes on the more difficult it becomes.
“Like many others we have sought to take advantage of the relevant government schemes at a time when we still have many of our costs but we don’t have anywhere near our level of revenues coming into the organisation with matches not being played.
“As well as VAT holidays and rates reliefs, we also moved quickly to defer percentages of salaries right across the organisation in line with the IRFU and the players were included in that.
“The issue is that deferral was resolved positively very quickly as all the players were understanding of why we were doing it. We had to look at what we could do as an organisation to ride out the current period.”
Petrie says he would like to see the 2019-20 season completed, stating “it is important people don’t act too quickly around that”.
“I think everyone wants to see the season completed if we possibly can. It’s right that matches in the meanwhile have been postponed rather than cancelled until we see what shape the future holds.”