Kevin Phillips claimed he was worried that Newcastle United have placed their staff on furlough leave with lower league clubs reliant on support from the Premier League.

The former England international, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, felt it was a “strange” decision given the wealth of Mike Ashley and the Magpies.

On Monday, United became the first Premier League club to place their non-playing staff on furlough leave but were quickly followed by Tottenham.

The government initiative was set up to pay 80% of staff’s wages, up to £2500 each month, in response to the coronavirus crisis in the UK.

When asked for his reaction to Mike Ashley’s decision, Phillips told Football Insider:

“Lots of clubs have done it. I see Sunderland have done it as well. It is probably the most viable option for these clubs so that they can continue to operate.

“Sunderland, I understand but with the money that Mike Ashley is worth, and how much that football club is worth, it is strange. I do not know how the football club run but I am sure they will be trying everything to keep their staff.

“But we want these Premier League clubs to be helping the lower league clubs, so for them to put their non-matchday staff on furlough leave makes you wonder.”

The Premier League, along with the EFL, have suspended the season indefinitely due to the outbreak of COVID-19 with the UK currently under strict lockdown measures.

However, many of the football league clubs are less financially stable than those in the Premier League and will likely need more than their share of the £50million short-term relief fund promised by the EFL.

In other Newcastle United news, Paul Robinson has told Football Insider winger is in ‘pole position’ to be signed this summer.