While the main topic around the return of football centres on the Premiership, lets take a moment to reflect on finances of clubs down the lower leagues.
Huddersfield Town’s owner Phil Hodgkinson has gone on record to say that up to 60 sides in the EFL could go bankrupt if clubs are required to play in empty stadiums next season.
Hodgkinson said that the domestic football pyramid could be destroyed as a result of the ban placed on supporters attending matches during the current pandemic.
He said recently. “The problem is not whether we finish this season or not, it is what happens after that.” There are clubs I know of that are only still trading because they are deferring wages and tax and other creditors.” There is an absolutely real stark probability that if something isn’t agreed now within football to ensure all clubs can pay their bills and get through to the point where income is resumed, you will be looking at 50 or 60 clubs ceasing to exist.” he warned.
This clearly is worrying times ahead for the lower divisions of the pyramid. If the game was to continue for clubs in the EFL, it would cost them between £150,000 and £200,000 for testing to get to the end of this season alone.
Will all lower league clubs having to rely on gate receipts, match day sales of leisurewear, shirts, programmes and food and drink along with match day hospitality and sponsorship, it doesn’t need a calculator to work out that it is virtually impossible for clubs to continue without crowds being allowed into grounds to watch the games.
Unlike the Premiership, the TV deal for the EFL is peanuts compared to the big boys of the top league in England. The only feasible solution to help out clubs in the EFL should be to reduce players wages at this unprecedented time sport is going through.
Yes, the players are not to blame, but the reality is that they are part of the solution because if some clubs do go out of business, their contracts won’t get paid by the clubs anyway.
The PFA in consultation with the clubs should put in place salary cuts until such a time as crowds are allowed back into football stadiums.
At this worrying time for all levels of football, surely it is time also for the Premier League to help out their fellow players by dipping into their ever-increasing large revenues and funding the EFL and the Non-League pyramid.
After all, the beautiful game isn’t just about the big clubs, it’s about the smaller ones to. So please let’s not forget them, as I’m sure no football lover in the country would want to see any team fold in these very trying times that we live in.
Article by Peter Moore