SUNDERLAND have become the third club in Sky Bet League One to put their players into the government’s furlough scheme.

The Wearsiders have joined Coventry City and Doncaster Rovers in making the move.

With the season suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic and no clear date for when it can be resumed, clubs are feeling the pinch.

Sunderland, whose decision includes academy players and backroom staff, are only keeping on a handful of people, such as manager Phil Parkinson.

In a statement the club said: “At this moment in time, SAFC has no intention to ask any players or staff to take a wage reduction or deferral on their salary, and the club remains fully committed to ensuring all employees are paid in full.”

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It means the government will pay 80 per cent of wages, up to £2,500 per month – a fraction of some players’ earnings, with the club topping up the rest.

Doncaster and league leaders Coventry took the same measures before the weekend.

City, who have played their home games at Birmingham City’s St Andrew’s this season, are determined to resume the campaign when conditions recover.

Chief executive Dave Boddy said: “Having spoken to all players and staff affected by these temporary arrangements, they are fully supportive and understand why this decision has been taken and all look forward to returning at the earliest opportunity.

“It goes without saying that we want to complete the season.

“Having had so many challenges already this season, this is another one that we want to get through.”

Doncaster CEO Gavin Baldwin said: “It is now clear that it cannot be business as usual until we as a society have made progress in the fight against COVID-19.”

Last week Oxford United put all non-key staff into the scheme.

It is understood they are waiting to see the outcome of talks involving the players’ union the PFA before making a decision on any next stage.