Ex-Asian champions Western Sydney lay off squad, staff

The Wanderers won the AFC Champions League in 2014. (Facebook pic/Western Sydney Wanderers FC)

SYDNEY: Former Asian football champions Western Sydney Wanderers have joined other A-League clubs by temporarily laying off their squad and staff, reports said on Wednesday, as the coronavirus shutdown takes a heavy toll on sport.

The Wanderers, who won the AFC Champions League in 2014, follow the lead of fellow top-flight clubs Perth Glory and Central Coast Mariners, with Brisbane Roar expected to follow suit, Australian media said.

Fairfax and News Corp newspapers both said the Wanderers had put their entire squad and staff on unpaid leave until April 22, when the A-League is to examine when or if the season can continue.

The 11-team A-League was one of the last football competitions still standing worldwide until it was finally suspended last week as Australia tightened its measures against the coronavirus.

On Friday, Football Federation Australia sent home 70% of its staff as it wrestles with the sudden loss of income.

And on Saturday, Australia’s footballers’ union threatened legal action against Perth Glory after their players’ pay was stopped.

The Wanderers and the A-League were not immediately available to comment.