Kevin Phillips expressed fears over the financial stability of Sunderland after they placed all their staff on furlough leave today.

The 2000 European Golden Shoe winner, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, suggested the club’s heavy reliance on gate receipts will be a “big worry” for Stuart McDonald.

The Black Cats announced earlier the decision to furlough all staff – including players and backroom staff – to protect the long-term financial stability of the club.

The club assures there will be no reduction or deferral of salaries and they will continue to pay staff in full.

Phillips insisted the lower league clubs will find it harder than their Premier League and Championship counterparts to survive despite having a lower wage bill.

“I know how big the club is but the finances are nowhere near the Championship clubs or Premier League clubs,” he told Football Insider.

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“These players still earn decent money up there, though.

“To put everyone on furlough leave is a big decision and it will come under criticism from some quarters. I just hope this does not continue for months. They would not do it unless it was completely necessary.

“You would fear for the club’s financial stability if this was to go on. The finances were a concern when Stuart Donald took it over, not the situation we are in now. It will be a big worry. Where is the money coming from? They rely heavily on the big crowd up there.” 

The Coronavirus Retention Scheme agrees to pay 80% of salaries, up to £2500 a month, of those who are unable to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Black Cats are joined by Crewe Alexandra in their announcement. Premier League clubs Tottenham, Newcastle, Norwich, and Bournemouth have placed their non-playing staff in furlough.

In other Sunderland news, Kevin Phillips has told Football Insider his verdict on Phil Parkinson’s start at the Stadium of Light.