Premier League clubs are reportedly set to make a ‘take it or leave it’ offer to help bail out beleaguered EFL clubs, though any such deal will be offered under strict conditions.
It’s now over six months since fans entered English stadia en masse, supporters having been forced to stay away amid the coronavirus pandemic with the return to action in June seeing games across Europe played behind closed doors.
Fans have returned in France and Germany – albeit at restricted capacities – and there had been hopes that England could follow suit from the beginning of October. However, a concerning spike in infection rates has seen such plans scrapped, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson having claimed that newly imposed restrictions could remain in place for six months.
The lack of supporters is having a devastating effect on finances across the game, and while the Premier League could see matchday revenue losses topping over £900 million, the effect of having no fans is being more acutely felt further down the football pyramid.
Clubs in League One and Two are much more highly reliant on matchday revenues than their Premier League counterparts, and there have been warnings that a number of clubs could go out of business if fans aren’t allowed to return any time soon.
The UK government have vowed to provide funding for struggling sports, but it is thought that professional football will not receive a bailout given the riches in the English top-flight, who have long been encouraged to provide financial aid.
Now, according to the Telegraph, such aid is finally set to be forthcoming, though is set to be offered under strict conditions with the Premier League willing to offer a support package worth £250 million.
However, they report that the package will be strictly ‘limited to underwriting lost gate receipts’, with clubs ‘needing to provide clear evidence’ of their losses – the top flight keen to avoid providing support to clubs who are struggling due to ‘poor ownership’ or ‘other self-inflicted issues’.
Meanwhile, the chairman of Colchester United, Robbie Cowling, has penned an open letter to the Prime Minister to question his ‘whack-a-mole’ approach in delaying the return of fans, pointing out that the socially distanced, outdoor environment of a football stadium is safer than a visit to a pub, restaurant or a trip on an aeroplane, all of which are still permitted.