EFL chief pleads for financial support for clubs after supporters return paused
PUBLISHED: 14:09 23 September 2020 | UPDATED: 14:09 23 September 2020
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EFL chief Rick Parry has warned a number of clubs will face a very challenging financial period after the news that supporters wouldn’t be allowed to return to stadiums and has urged the government to offer support.
Norwich City were one of two Championship clubs who held a pilot event of 1,000 people last Saturday - an event that the club are understood to be extremely proud about how it went.
Merely two days later - prime minister Boris Johnson announced a package of new measures in response to a concerning surge in coronavirus cases. Those restrictions included an indefinite pause on supporters returning to stadiums.
Despite the set-back, Parry believes football was well placed to continue their plans for getting fans back in grounds on a partial basis.
Writing in an EFL statement, Parry said: “This is why over many months we have helped the government devise, refine and pilot stringent stadium protocols designed to keep supporters safe.
“Staging professional football matches is one of the most heavily regulated areas of crowd management and any supporters attending EFL fixtures, in vastly reduced numbers, would have been required to adhere to social distancing and the rule of six.
“Therefore, we are deeply frustrated that we will not be able to continue this work and, in doing so, gather the evidence to show that crowds can return safely to football and become an important financial lifeline for our clubs.”
City were bracing themselves for a £12million loss due to behind closed doors football, but that is now expected to increase over the coming months.
Numerous clubs have pleaded for financial support during this period with the fear that a perilous road awaits them. Many fear that some clubs will go extinct - and Parry has urged the government to act accordingly to preserve clubs in the EFL.
“As a matter of urgency, we now need to understand what the government’s roadmap is for getting supporters back into stadiums as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.
“With extended measures introduced, it is imperative that the financial issues facing our clubs are addressed quickly.
“EFL clubs lost £50m last season as a result of playing matches behind closed doors or curtailing the season and stand to lose a further £200m in 2020/21 should we be required to play the whole season without supporters in grounds.
“I am encouraged that the government has recognised the need for urgent financial assistance for sport and discussions will continue with DCMS and the Premier League.
“We remain optimistic that a solution will be found, but we should also be very clear that if it is not, then the outlook for many clubs in the period ahead will be very challenging.”