Kevin Phillips feared “the damage may have been done” already as mega-rich Liverpool reversed their decision to furlough some of their non-playing staff.

The former Sunderland and Southampton striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, suggested the initial announcement that some employees would be furloughed has possibly “tarnished” the club’s reputation.

Chief Executive Peter Moore issued an open letter to fans apologising for coming to “the wrong conclusion last week” and “we are truly sorry for that.”

The Reds reversed the decision to place some of their non-playing staff on the scheme, set up by the government, to cover 80% of the wages of employees who cannot work amid the coronavirus pandemic.

When asked by Football Insider if the initial decision has damaged the club’s reputation, Phillips said: “Liverpool are a huge club. They have earned a hell of a lot of money and they have extremely wealthy owners.

“When you go down to the lower leagues it is a no brainer but for someone the size of Liverpool, having just won the Champions League and the Premier League, you cannot tell me they cannot afford it. Manchester United did not hesitate – 900 staff. The non-matchday staff are not on huge money.

“It is the right decision and you have to give them credit for reversing their decision. But the damage may have been done. It has possibly tarnished their reputation a little bit.”

The overturn means Tottenham, Newcastle, Bournemouth, and Norwich are the only clubs to have placed their staff on the job retention scheme which covers a maximum of £2500 a month.

Spurs under increasing pressure to follow suit and reverse their initial decision.

In other Liverpool news, Paul Robinson has told Football Insider young defender would form a formidable partnership with Virgil van Dijk if signed.