Reading players accept wage deferrals to help soften COVID-19 blow

REUTERS: Reading's first-team players have agreed to defer a "substantial" portion of their wages for three months to help negate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the English Championship (second-tier) club said on Tuesday.

Professional soccer has been suspended since March due to the novel coronavirus outbreak and clubs in England's lower divisions have struggled to deal with the loss of matchday revenue and ticket income.

"I’m delighted we have come to an agreement on salary deferments," captain Liam Moore said in a statement. "These are very testing times for our club at present, much like every other club up and down the country.

"This has taken a bit of time, but it was important we ensured it was right for every individual. It was my job as captain to make sure each player felt 100per cent comfortable in what they were signing up to."

Reading manager Mark Bowen and his staff had agreed to similar deferrals a number of weeks ago, the club said.

Championship clubs returned to training in small groups this week, with hopes of completing the season behind closed doors.

Huddersfield Town owner Phil Hodgkinson said up to 60 clubs in the lower tiers of English soccer could go out of business if the sport fails to plan for the impact of the virus beyond the current season.

(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)