Sports minister Nigel Huddleston has warned EFL clubs to look after themselves due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as the government will not bail out struggling clubs.
Rick Parry, EFL Chairman has said that clubs in the lower divisions, such as Leagues One and Two are at risk of facing a £200 million financial ‘black hole’ by the end of September.
The EFL has attempted to lower the potential deficit by voting to not restart Leagues One and Two, but instead just holding the play-off games. This is in contrast to The Premier League and Sky Bet Championship who have restarted and finished the season as naturally as possible, with government restrictions in place. However, the lack of income from gate receipts is noticeable by all clubs throughout the EFL.
Nigel Huddleston has said he believes EFL clubs must look after each other, after the EFL has not approached looking for more money, following the Premier League advancing their solidarity payment of £125 million in April.
Huddleston commented on the situation: “We’re in conversations with them, but, to be honest, I think EFL, Premier League and the FA all understand that they’ve got a responsibility to each other and to make sure the whole pyramid survives. I expect everybody to play their part.
“There’s a responsibility for the football pyramid to look very carefully at the dynamics and the financial flows.
“There’s a lot of money in British football and we need to make sure that it first and foremost looks after itself.
“Given that there’s a lot of money in British football, taxpayers would not necessarily expect that that’s the sport that they’re going to have to delve into their pockets and bail out.
“We are having conversations with all the key players. Premier League have advanced UK£125 million so far and if more’s needed, then we’ll have those conversations.
“To be fair, they are having conversations amongst themselves, and also then looking at slightly longer term.
“We’ve announced a grassroots fan-based review of football governance. I don’t think that can be divorced from the financial aspects as well.
“We’ll see how things go in the long term, but there are some clubs that are really going to suffer, so we really need to make sure that we can open up as fast as possible but also safely.”
Plans have been made public in the last few weeks that the government are planning on allowing the controlled return of fans to stadiums, with events such as cricket, where 1,000 supporters were allowed to attend a match at the Kia Oval this past Sunday, which went ‘as predicted’ according to Huddleston and has been an important step in the reintroduction of fans. Besides, 5,000 members of the Goodwood Horseracing Club will be allowed to attend on August 1.
Huddleston is still confident with this plan: “The 1st October deadline is certainly the target that we’re looking at.
“In the past, if you look at various announcements we’ve made, some have been put forward, some have been pushed back, but I think that’s a pretty firm one because we’ve got plans for not only the immediate pilots, but the next series of pilots.
“We genuinely want to make sure that we learn the lessons from those pilots. We’re really just talking just over two months away.
“In the whole scheme of things, it’s not that far away – 60 something days, and we’ll be there. So, I would be surprised at this moment in time is that date moved. But I’m confident we’ll meet that date.”
Author: James Parker