The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) says it is “extremely disappointed” by Southend United’s handling of furloughing players.
It added the club has “consistently” let players down over wages this year.
Southend chairman Ron Martin said six players, who are “some of the highest-paid individuals” at the League One club, had been furloughed.
He added the players were paid “100% of their salary” until they were put on the government’s Job Retention Scheme.
The PFA – the players’ union – says that this “represents an unfair portrayal of the players and an inaccurate reflection of the club’s situation”.
It stressed that the players remain committed to supporting the club, but has raised concerns that they are being “dictated to publicly by the club” and has called for constructive dialogue with players.
Southend are 16 points from safety in League One and have twice been charged by the English Football League this season for failing to pay their players on time.
“The PFA is extremely disappointed with the public statement made by Southend United’s chairman, Ron Martin, which represents an unfair portrayal of the players and an inaccurate reflection of the club’s situation,” it said in a statement.
“Throughout this season, including prior to the Covid-19 crisis, the club has consistently let its players down with regards to late or non-payments of salaries.
“Despite the worry and distress this caused, players maintained their support for the club and always responded in a professional manner.
“They continued to train despite non-payment of wages, and collectively they felt a duty to the non-playing staff, the supporters and the wider community of Southend to complete fixtures.”
In his statement confirming that players had been furloughed, released to the Southend Echo this week, club chairman Martin said: “Whatever the position, it is the club’s wish to be fair to all its loyal staff and it is hoped, as stated in the furlough letter, the club will make up any shortfall when normality returns.”
Earlier in April, it was announced that a deal had been struck to build a new stadium for the club.
Martin said the plans for a stadium at Fossetts Farm, to replace the club’s existing Roots Hall ground, would “deliver a project that I believe the people of Southend will be very proud of”.