(Reuters) - The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) on Wednesday expressed its disappointment with Southend United chairman Ron Martin after the club's decision to furlough some of its players due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The League One (third tier) club said it had furloughed six players and 59 backroom staff under the British government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, adding that the six players were some of the club's "highest-paid individuals".
Martin said they were paid 100% of their salaries until they were furloughed but the players' union said this was not the first time the club had let them down with respect to payment of salaries.
The PFA said Martin's statement "represents an unfair portrayal of the players and an inaccurate reflection of the club's situation."
"Throughout this season, including prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the club has consistently let its players down with regards to late or non-payments of salaries," the PFA said in a statement https://www.thepfa.com/news/2020/4/22/southend-united-statement.
Seven Southend players did not receive their wages on time in December while the PFA was in touch with the club when it failed to pay staff wages on time in February.
"Despite the worry and distress this caused, players maintained their support for the club and always responded in a professional manner," the PFA added.
"They continued to train despite non-payment of wages, and collectively they felt a duty to the non-playing staff, the supporters and the wider community of Southend to complete fixtures."
Southend were in the relegation zone after 35 games before the season was suspended last month due to the pandemic.
The club released a furlough letter https://www.southendunited.co.uk/siteassets/201920/news/april/furlough-letter-.pdf online which spelled out a "temporary variation to terms and conditions" of their contract, with the period of furlough leave beginning on March 14.
The PFA said that although the players were committed to seeking solutions to help the club they were being "dictated to publicly" with little dialogue between the two parties, imploring them to mutually agree on solutions.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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