‘What I’ve seen in my brief time at Stoke City’ – Michael O’Neill on wages, owners and behind-the-scenes staff



Michael O’Neill may have only been at Stoke City since November but it is clear he already has a good idea about how the club operates.

Stoke’s owners the Coates family have already committed to covering wages and ensuring no job losses over the next five uncertain months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But clubs across the country and Europe are having to find a way to survive without any income from match days for an indefinite period.

“I think everyone at the club is concerned,” said manager O’Neill. “When a situation arises and any club is in financial trouble, the first casualties tend to be the people in those (behind the scenes) roles – we never want to see that.

“I don’t envisage the owners would let that happen unless it was a really grave situation.

“At this time it’s been quite difficult because when we got the information on the Friday that the season had been suspended for three weeks, we broke away and haven’t seen each other since. We haven’t had a chance to see anyone since.

“I know the financial implications are different at this minute in time and different to if a club was in financial difficulties and the season was ongoing.

“The situation affects everyone and I think everyone is pulling together. You’re not in the situation where players are looking to jump ship because there is a better opportunity somewhere else.

“What I’ve seen with Stoke in the brief time I’ve been there is that there is a really strong group of people who have been at the club a very long time.

“It’s a concern but I think the club will do everything possible to make sure there are no casualties.”

Already, clubs as disparate as Bayern Munich and Birmingham City are reported to have asked for wage deferrals until the summer.

It is a nightmare scenario for a manager to consider – but there will be some who won’t have a choice.

O’Neill said in an interview with Radio 5Live: “It’s probably something I’d rather not think about at the moment!

“But it is important as a manager that you’re involved in that. Those decisions are obviously made by the owners or maybe chief executive as well. I don’t think we’re at that stage yet but the longer the situation goes on, I think every football club will be in a situation where they have to consider that.

“Certainly when you see the actions of the players in Germany it does make you think that maybe that situation is possibly sooner around the corner than we envisage.

“I do think there has to be calm although at this minute in time it’s very difficult – and every club is different in terms of how their finances are structured and the ownership model.

“I can only deal with the situation as it comes day by day. Players I know will have concerns about that but equally the owners at the moment haven’t given me any indication that is something they are looking to do.”





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