London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur’s decision to furlough 550 of their non-playingstaff due to the economic fall-out from the coronavirus pandemic has been sharply criticised by former Spurs and England great Gary Lineker.

Spurs are one of four Premier League clubs to implement this measure which involves a reduction in the staff members salaries to 80% and paid by the British Government — however the players high wages remain the same.

Lineker has pledged two months of his lucrative BBC salary, for presenting their flagship football highlights programme Match Of The Day, to the British Red Cross.

“The way Tottenham have handled it I don’t think has been very good,” he told BBC Radio on Thursday.

“What they are doing to their staff I don’t agree with whatsoever.”

Lineker said the Spurs players may take a different line to the club and volunteer to have their salaries deferred or reduced.   

“That (the furlough of the non-playing staff) is a separate issue to what the players do.

“It’s the club that has said that the players are going to carry on with their wages, but let’s see how the players react to it.”

Premier League managers Eddie Howe and Graham Potter of Bournemouth and Brighton respectively have taken voluntary pay cuts in the past two days.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola took a different tack and donated one million euros to help buy medical supplies for the fight against the pandemic in his native Spain.

Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford’s teaming up with a food distribution charity to ensure children get fed in the Manchester area has already raised over £100,000.    

Lineker, capped 80 times, expects players to follow their fellow professionals across Europe.

Many have taken voluntary salary reductions.

The entire Barcelona squad, led by Lionel Messi, agreed to 70% reductions while the coronavirus crisis continues.

“I think a lot of footballers will do something, and I think there will be a lot of announcements at clubs,” said Lineker.

“My inkling is that footballers will take pay cuts, they will help out in communities, they will make donations in whatever way they can, and I think we need to be a little bit patient with them.”

Lineker said he hoped his decision to donate his wages to charity would prompt others who are similarly wealthy to follow suit.

“I’ve decided that I’m going to donate two months’ net salary to the British Red Cross, who are on the frontline trying to help in all sorts of different ways,” said the 59-year-old.

“Hopefully other people who are in a position of relative wealth can do something similar.”