Sunderland have furloughed first-team players, contracted academy players and backroom staff.

Hartlepool United yesterday made four full-time members of staff redundant, two weeks after paying off two employees involved on the football side of the club. It is understood one of yesterday’s departures was from the first-team set-up.

Middlesbrough last week put a number of non-playing staff on furlough, with Newcastle United doing the same, to the extent they shut down the club’s recruitment department with staff unable to use their company mobile phones and computers.

The Black Cats became the fourth League One club after Doncaster, Portsmouth and Coventry to utilise the Government’s job retention scheme to cover 80 per cent of employees’ wages, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

Last week, Sunderland put its non-playing staff on leave, although several key workers remained to maintain the club’s day to day operation, most of those working from home.

However, with no sign of football returning, the vast majority of staff, players included, are now on leave. Manager Phil Parkinson will continue to work from home.

The PFA is in talks with key stakeholders to try and decide a plan ahead, with a number of EFL clubs asking their players to defer.

Sunderland added there was “no intention to ask any players or staff to take a wage reduction or deferral on their salary” and that all employees will be paid in full.

A statement on the club’s official website read: “Sunderland AFC can today confirm that its first-team players, contracted academy players and backroom staff have recently been placed on furlough leave due to the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“A small number of staff, including manager Phil Parkinson, continue to work from home, and the club’s priority remains the health and wellbeing of its players, staff, supporters and local community during this unprecedented period.”

League Two leaders Crewe followed Sunderland in deciding to yesterday furlough staff and players.

A club statement read: “In light of the current coronavirus pandemic, and the suspension of all professional football, the club is having to respond to the economic pressures it faces. Consequently, the club has taken the decision to ‘furlough’ its staff and players.

“This decision has been made in order to protect the long-term financial viability of the football club in what are unprecedented times.”

St Mirren yesterday joined Scottish Premiership rivals Hamilton and Ross County in placing players on furlough leave, while Hibernian, Aberdeen and Rangers have agreed wage deferrals with their players.

Some Hearts players have agreed temporary wage cuts with others in talks with the club.