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What the government has said on helping lower league clubs

In this article, we look at what the government has said on helping lower league clubs, especially as the National League is expected to start Saturday.

The government was forced to postpone the return of crowds to elite sport, and the league only wanted to start the season if fans were allowed in the stands in order for clubs to get some sort on matchday income to survive.

Now that might not be possible, a financial package is also being urged from EFL and non league clubs towards the government and Premier League.

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder has revealed that the Blades are happy to help contribute to something, hopefully leading the way for many other sides to join them.

A money handed out from the government is unlikely it would see after they has called on the Premier League at the weekend to “step up to the plate” and help support lower league clubs who are struggling financially due to the impact of coronavirus.

Top flight clubs are set to hold a virtual meeting on Tuesday to discuss whether to provide further funds to the English Football League (EFL), which features 72 clubs across three divisions, yet nothing seemingly for non league.

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Premier League clubs – and to a lesser extent, Championship clubs – benefit from extremely lucrative television rights packages.

“We’re all agreed the Premier League needs to step up to the plate and they’re having intensive discussions with the EFL over how they can support those clubs,” Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told broadcaster Sky News on Sunday.

“The direction is clear, we understand the Premier League needs to play its part. I’m in close consultation with them and I’m hopeful they will be able to reach a deal and provide that level of support.”

The EFL estimate that its 72 clubs will lose £200million if there are no fans in the stands for the rest of this season, which began earlier this month. The EFL said they have lost £50m during last season’s pandemic disruption.

“We keep the situation under constant review,” Dowden said. “We are also investigating the use of new technology, working with the clubs who have done a fantastic job until now.

“If it’s all possible of course I would like it to happen (for fans to return), but, in this rapidly moving situation with the virus, we just need to exercise a little bit of caution which is what we’ve done in relation to October 1.

“Most people would agree against this backdrop of rapidly rising cases now is not the time to bring back crowds.”

A letter has been sent to Dowden from Charlie Methven (Sunderland co-owner), Lord David Triesman (former Chairman of the FA), Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Vice-President of the National League), Lord Goddard of Stockport, Malcolm Clarke (Chairman of the Football Supporters Association) , Robbie Savage, Greg Dyke, Karl McCartney (MP for Lincoln and Chairman of the APPG for Football), Ian Mearns (MP for Gateshead and Chairman of the APPG for Football Supporters), Sir David Amess (MP for Southend West), Rehman Chishti (MP for Gillingham and Rainham), Damian Green (MP for Ashford and member of the DCMS Select Committee), Kevin Brennan (MP for Cardiff West and member of the DCMS Select Committee),
Clive Betts (MP for Sheffield South East and former Chairman of the APPG for Football), Derek Twigg (MP for Halton and Lilian Greenwood (MP for Nottingham South).


Dear Oliver, we wrote to you in May this year setting out the financial crisis facing football clubs, and particularly those in the English Football League (EFL), because of the loss of match day revenue resulting from the government’s policies to combat COVID-19.

“We also detailed a game plan that could be put in place to prevent this. Since then clubs have been able to sustain themselves through advance season ticket sales, solidarity payments from the Premier League, and had agreed to start playing the new season in the belief that fans would be allowed to return to stadiums this autumn.

“It’s now clear that spectators will not be back in EFL grounds, even in limited numbers, for the foreseeable future. As a consequence clubs will not only lose this budgeted for income, but will also have to refund season tickets to fans who will now be prevented from attending matches.

“There has been no agreement reached by the football authorities on a bailout for clubs that need it, many of whom were already heavily indebted before the coronavirus arrived.

“From the statements made by ministers at DCMS questions in the House of Commons on 24 September, it’s equally clear that the government has no current proposals to provide financial support, and nor is it prepared to offer any guarantees for the future.

“Without any plans being made to rescue football clubs, many in the EFL and others in the National League as well, are now actively preparing to make all but essential staff redundant, cease playing, close down their youth academies and community foundations, and put their business into administration.

“This could lead not only to the failure of many historic community clubs, but the collapse of the national league structure that we have known for over one hundred years.

“These are decisions that will be made in the coming weeks, with many clubs unable to meet their payroll obligations for next month. There is still time to act, but not long left.

“The government made £1.5billion available to rescue arts and cultural organisations across the country that faced closure because of the coronavirus.

“We believe that football, like other well-loved professional sports in this country, is also a cultural activity.

“We would ask that the government now make clear what financial support it’s prepared to give before it is too late.

“In particular, we believe that in order for clubs to sustain themselves over the winter and keep playing, they would need to be compensated for the loss of match ticket sales.

“The absence of this income is not a result of their actions, but the policies that have been put in place by the government in response to a public health emergency.

“We understand that you had hoped that the Premier League clubs might make a significant additional contribution to support the EFL.

“Whilst this would be welcome those clubs too face swingeing losses from lost ticketing receipts and falling revenues from broadcasting matches.

“However, it cannot be the Premier League’s sole responsibility to sort out issues arising from government policy.

“The government itself needs to take responsibility or many already-embattled towns – often in areas of the country which have suffered many hardships in recent decades – will lose their last focal point.”


It was last season that the Premier League’s 20 clubs agreed to advance funds of 125 million pounds ($150 million) to clubs in the EFL and fifth-tier National League.

In response, Huddersfield Town chief executive Mark Devlin posted on social media: “But Mr Dowden, irrespective of Premier League support, you need to let us start welcoming back fans and business partners into a safe stadia environment.

“So much work had been done on making our stadia as Covid safe as possible, you now need to let us all get on with it.”

It is not yet known when fans will be able to return, with existing government restrictions likely to remain in place for six months.

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said the government was working with clubs and medical advisers to seek “further innovations” to decrease risks.

“We are continuing to explore what would be the ideal solution in the absence of a vaccine, which would be if you have large amount of in-day testing to give people a so-called freedom pass to be able to go into those stadiums,” he said.

“We are exploring that. We are exploring further technological innovations. But we are also looking at how we can support the clubs through this difficult period.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock was widely criticised earlier this year when he made comments during a public ministerial briefing about the wealth of individual players.

At the time, BBC presenter Gary Lineker said: “Football is always an easy target but where are the big businessmen, where are the CEOs of these enormous companies, what are they doing at the moment?”

Fans took to Twitter as seeing what the government has said on helping lower league clubs…

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