ESSEX County Cricket Club have announced that all of their players have been placed on furlough leave until further notice.

The County Championship title holders have also confirmed that the majority of their non-playing staff have also been placed on furlough, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The club made what they said was a 'difficult decision' following a board meeting earlier this week, saying they have done so in accordance with the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The Cloudfm County Ground in Chelmsford has been closed to the public for nearly two weeks, with staff working from home in an attempt to minimise the potential spread of COVID-19.

Essex CCC chief executive Derek Bowden said: “To start off with, I want to say that my thoughts are with everyone affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.

"It’s vitally important that in these unprecedented times, we listen to the advice of the UK Government and stay at home, stay healthy, look after one another and protect the NHS.

“From a business perspective, by utilising the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, we are able to preserve and protect jobs at The Cloudfm County Ground during a financially damaging period.

“In accordance with UK Government advice, the Club have been strictly following the suggested protocols in order to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19, with the health and wellbeing of all of the staff and the wider community at the forefront of our planning and decision-making.

“With this in mind, the Club will operate with reduced staff throughout April, with regular assessments taking place beyond that.

"We hope that this will be for as short a period of time as possible and that we can all get back to work and enjoy some cricket in the near future.

“Lastly, we continue to urge our Members and supporters to listen to the UK Government’s advice. Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.”