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Coronavirus battle: Government’s rescue plan saves most Bees jobs

Barnet coronavirus battle

National League Barnet say the government’s rescue plan for employees has saved the jobs of the vast majority of their non-playing staff during the coronavirus crisis.

Bees chairman Tony Kleanthous has confirmed that ‘less than half a dozen’ are now facing redundancy rather than up to 60 first feared with up to 80 per cent of wages set to be covered.

Kleanthous also hopes the government’s emergency measures will save Barnet’s academy from closure and see it reopen after the public health crisis.

Bees boss Darren Currie and all staff were put on notice last week after the National League season was suspended and Britain started going into Covid-19 lockdown.

Kleanthous confirmed the news in a statement on the club’s website on Wednesday which also thanked staff for ‘responding amazingly given the circumstances’.

The Bees chairman wrote: “Now that The Hive London has finally closed for all but community aid services, I have had some time to put together an update on the current status of not only our Football Division but also across our wider business group.

“Firstly and most importantly, an update on our staff arrangements. It makes me very proud to have such a solid and reliable team here. They have all been absolutely fantastic throughout and I have spent the best part of the last week or so meeting with them either individually or in small collective groups. I have to say that the they have responded amazingly given the circumstances.

“We originally thought that we would be losing up to 60 staff across the group but with the Government support measures in place, the number of people affected, excluding the academy, is now less than half a dozen, who for various reasons e.g. end of contract, returned overseas etc. would have departed anyway.”

Outlining his hopes for the academy, he added: “We remain hopeful that they will fully appreciate our predicament and help us in this small, yet very important way. If they agree, we will only receive 50% of the £500,000 funding that is required, so we have pledged to make the balance available and reprieve all the academy staff and guarantee their jobs for the foreseeable future. We are awaiting the outcome of this request.”

Barnet were 11th in the National League when the season was suspended and four points off the play-off places.

The National League was reported to be preparing to pile more pressure on the professional game earlier on Wednesday by cancelling all of it’s remaining fixtures within days and possibly hours.

With the English Football League and Premier League still committed to completing their suspended campaigns despite the growing coronavirus crisis, National League bosses are under growing pressure to shut down the season with member clubs fearing for their futures and eager for certainty.

Non-League’s top two tiers are currently suspended until at April 3 and the pro game until April that could change swiftly this week. The BetVictor-sponsored isthmian League, Southern League and Northern Premier League all confirmed they were terminating their seasons on Tuesday.

According to reports in multiple media outlets on Wednesday, including London’s Evening Standard and the Hartlepool Mail, the majority of clubs, including some of those pushing for promotion, reluctantly agreed on Tuesday that voiding the campaign is the only realistic way forward.

Make sure you get your copy of The Non-League Paper on Sunday for the latest news from across Non-League over the last seven days on the growing impact of the coronavirus on the game and society.

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