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Manu Tuilagi set to leave Leicester after contract stand-off

Kyle Eastmond, Telusa Veainu, Greg Bateman, Noel Reid and Jordan Taufua have also yet to sign new, reduced terms with Tigers.

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Manu Tuilagi, pictured, remains in contract dispute with Leicester Tigers (Adam Davy/PA)

Manu Tuilagi, pictured, remains in contract dispute with Leicester Tigers (Adam Davy/PA)

Manu Tuilagi, pictured, remains in contract dispute with Leicester Tigers (Adam Davy/PA)

England centre Manu Tuilagi is one of six players stood down by Leicester Tigers amid a Welford Road contract stand-off, the PA news agency understands.

British and Irish Lions star Tuilagi, Kyle Eastmond, Telusa Veainu, Greg Bateman, Noel Reid and Jordan Taufua are yet to sign new, reduced terms with the Gallagher Premiership club.

Leicester set their players a deadline of Tuesday evening to sign new deals on lower terms, to reflect the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and also the upcoming salary cap reductions.

England stars George Ford and Ellis Genge are understood to have agreed new deals before the Tuesday deadline, but six senior stars now remain in continued dispute with the club.

All six players yet to agree new terms are thought to have sought legal advice on their situations.

Tuilagi has 43 England caps and one for the Lions, and is approaching the peak of his powers at 29.

The Samoa-born centre will be able to command a sizeable contract in either France or Japan, and his Leicester team-mates Veainu and Taufua will doubtless be in similar demand.

Leicester revealed the pandemic has already cost them approximately ยฃ5million in revenue, but crucially the Tigers were unable to give an update on Tuilagiโ€™s situation in a lengthy statement on Wednesday.

The Tigers were 11th in the Gallagher Premiership table when the season was suspended in March due to Covid-19.

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Telusa Veainu, pictured, is in contract dispute with Leicester Tigers (Richard Sellers/PA)

Telusa Veainu, pictured, is in contract dispute with Leicester Tigers (Richard Sellers/PA)

PA

Telusa Veainu, pictured, is in contract dispute with Leicester Tigers (Richard Sellers/PA)

With Welford Road out of action since, Leicester believe up to 31 members of staff could be made redundant.

โ€œThe clubโ€™s commercial activities have felt the pandemicโ€™s impact more than most Premiership Rugby clubs, given the size of its stadium and fan base,โ€ a club statement read.

โ€œTo date, the club has missed out on approximately ยฃ5million of revenues since it was last able to host matchdays or events at Welford Road.

โ€œThe board recognises and is grateful for the significant sacrifices made across the clubโ€™s community to ensure a sustainable long-term financial footing for Tigers.

โ€œFans have kept season ticket money in the club and sponsors have continued to be supportive.โ€

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England fly-half George Ford, pictured, is believed to have signed a new deal at Leicester (David Davies/PA)

England fly-half George Ford, pictured, is believed to have signed a new deal at Leicester (David Davies/PA)

PA

England fly-half George Ford, pictured, is believed to have signed a new deal at Leicester (David Davies/PA)

Leicester have made use of the government furlough scheme, but on Wednesday concluded a redundancy process which could see numerous staff leave in addition to โ€œa small number of playersโ€ moving on to seek new opportunities elsewhere.

The club statement continued: โ€œThe players were asked to accept reduced wages and, following feedback, we created a mechanism through which a proportion of forgone earnings could be reclaimed when the club returns to profitability.

โ€œAt the same time, salaries of lower-paid players beginning their professional careers were protected. In common with other club employees, these changes resulted from detailed explanations of the clubโ€™s financial position and the necessity of the measures being taken.

โ€œOur focus throughout this crisis has been to put the club first and to ensure the long-term sustainability and competitiveness of Tigers.

โ€œThe vast majority of players fully support our recovery plans and will be working with Geordan Murphy and Steve Borthwick on the way forward, beginning with the phased return to training and proposed resumption of the 2019-20 season.โ€

PA