Labour leader Keir Starmer is “disappointed” that Arsenal is looking to make “Gunnersaurus” mascot Jerry Guy, and 55 other staff members, jobless amid the pandemic.
Starmer, who is an Arsenal fan, praised midfielder Mesut Ozil for offering to pay the mascot’s wages, but his spokesperson went on to say top flight clubs should show “compassion, decency and fairness” during the crisis.
Guy was facing redundancy after 27 years as Covid-19 continues to affect the north London club. No fans have been able to go to games since March.
Fifty-five other staff members face joblessness – yet Arsenal signed midfielder Thomas Partey for £45m from Atletico Madrid on Monday’s transfer deadline day.
The Labour leader’s spokesperson said: “Football is the national sport and football clubs, particularly those wealthier clubs, at this difficult time should be showing how they are supporting their staff.”
I was so sad that Jerry Quy aka our famous & loyal mascot @Gunnersaurus and integral part of our club was being made redundant after 27 years. As such, I’m offering to reimburse @Arsenal with the full salary of our big green guy as long as I will be an Arsenal player... pic.twitter.com/IfWN38x62z
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) October 6, 2020
“Football clubs need to demonstrate the values that have come out so strongly during this pandemic, which are compassion, decency and fairness. We hope all the clubs take this on board.”
First-team players and head coach Mikel Arteta agreed a 12.5% pay cut in April but Starmer’s spokesperson said Arteta should be supporting staff and trying to help lower league clubs, many of which are in dire straits.
Asked about the job cuts at Arsenal, the spokesperson added: “[Starmer] was disappointed by the club’s decision. All football clubs should send messages of solidarity to people during this difficult time.
“He agrees people take a dim view of clubs that are spending millions of pounds on transfers on same day they are making hardworking staff redundant.”
Asked about Ozil, who is reportedly paid around £350,000 a week, and his offer to help Guy, he added: “[Starmer] does applaud him and thinks that’s the kind of message footballers should be sending.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.