‘They should pay the furlough back’ – Our writers discuss Hull City, Bristol Rovers and Oxford spending money on players this summer

Hull City have today signed midfielder Greg Docherty from Glasgow Rangers for a fee thought to be in the region of £400,000.

Before we continue, apologies for linking to The S*n, but we must validate transfer fees with links and it’s the only one we could find. Rest assured, we don’t read it and will never buy it.

Hull were relegated out of the Championship last season, with manager Grant McCann quickly back at the level he left 12 months ago. The Tigers end a 15-year stint in the top two divisions but come down as a ‘big gun’ looking for an immediate return, much the same as Ipswich and Sunderland have in recent seasons.

23-year-old Docherty came through the ranks at Hamilton before a move to Rangers, but enjoyed his best senior spell on loan at Shrewsbury. A short stint with Hibernian last season saw him get some exposure to SPFL football, but he needs regular games if he is to add to his Scotland Under 21 caps. A move south of the border made perfect sense, but Hull’s transfer has raised some questions amongst supporters of other clubs.

Only four months ago, Hull City furloughed most of their non-playing staff, as did many clubs in League One. The difference between Hull and many of the others is that after taking from the government scheme, effectively accepting handouts from the tax-payer, they are now spending money on transfer fees. The quandary here is whether it is morally acceptable for a football club to claim from a government scheme and later be able to outspend rivals heavily?

They’re not the only club to furlough staff and pay for players this summer. Bristol Rovers also furloughed staff and have forked out for Jonah Ayunga and Zain Westbrooke. Charlton have done the same, again paying an undisclosed fee for Alex Gilbey, reported by Transfermarkt as £270k and Oxford United also took advantage and have since paid money for Sean Clare. We know the Premier League is morally corrupt, that’s not up for debate and it is the reason we chose to focus on League One and League Two, but are the actions of these clubs wrong, or is it a case of virtue signalling by those who are up in arms about it?

We turned to our team of writers to get their take on the situation, asking ‘are clubs wrong to pay transfer fees after using the furlough scheme’.

Gary Hutchinson

There are two sides to this argument. Firstly, would a cafe be wrong if they furloughed staff, but now they’re back working they buy a new coffee machine and hire and extra waitress? Probably not, no. However, are a football club wrong when they find half a million quid to spend on players when a few months ago they couldn’t scrape together £50,000 for a months wages for non-playing staff? I’m being casual with numbers here, but the reality is it stinks.

I can understand clubs paying a nominal fee for players, like Shrewsbury have done, but when the figures start getting up to £300,000 it is plain wrong. Those clubs have take money from the government to pay their costs and are now using money they would otherwise have had to use for staff on buying new players. Morally, the actions of these cvlubs is nothing short of disgusting.

John Grant

I’m not sure I agree with Gary fully. I can understand the outrage from clubs who cannot or will not spend, but where is the line drawn? When you are off work sick and you fell better, when is it fair to be seen down the shops again? Clubs were threatened with extinction a few months back and did what they needed to, but there is a clearer landscape now and they know what they do, or do not have.

Sadly, football is a divisive subject and it is obvious that these actions will divide supporters. Once we get some actual football to talk about, it will soon be forgotten.

Jeff Muxlow

It’s a travesty that they’re allowed to do it. They should pay the furlough back to the government if they can afford to be throwing money around like that. Some clubs in League One are fighting for survival and others have big six-figure sums to throw away. Whilst there has never been parity at this level, the fact the spending clubs have my taxes funding their extravagance is sickening.

I find it even more galling from Blackpool, Oxford and Bristol Rovers though. They voted to end the season early, relegating Tranmere, becuase they couldn’t afford to play on. Now, they’re spending money on players without a care in the world. They should hang their heads in shame.

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