The EFL board is set to consider a new bailout offer from the Premier League on Thursday, but officials believe it will still not be enough to save many clubs – or thousands of jobs in the national game.
Sources close to the discussions say the latest funding proposal is a ‘short-term fix’ and either the Premier League will have to find more, or the Government must step in.
Football’s top-tier has repeated its previously rejected offer of £20m in grants and £30m in loans, but this time Championship clubs would be allowed to apply for additional funds, removing a key sticking point, according to The Telegraph.
EFL clubs are desperate for financial support as the ban on fans has resulted in huge losses
The EFL board is to consider a new proposal for a £50m bailout from the Premier League
The value of the additional offer is not clear and would only be available to those clubs whose owners cannot afford to bail them out.
The proposal is due to be discussed by the EFL board on Thursday, but clubs from Leagues One and Two remain concerned at the amount of money on offer to them.
‘The actual amount we would get club-by-club is simply not enough,’ an insider told Sportsmail.
The EFL has calculated £250m is needed to cover the losses caused by the pandemic in all three divisions, so far. But even some clubs outside the Championship are expecting losses due to the pandemic to reach £10m.
‘The offer is really £20m, so it won’t go far,’ said the insider. ‘The £30m of loans are no good because clubs will never be in a position to repay them. The amount of money currently on offer is so small in comparison to the problem.’
EFL chairman Rick Parry (pictured) has written to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden warning him that football league clubs will go out of business without support from his government
EFL clubs appreciate support from the Premier League, but are concerned that to accept the current offer, with no further commitments, would leave them extremely vulnerable and unable to fill a large funding gap.
‘The moment we accept that offer in the absence of other elements of a package we are in danger of being told that it is all sorted,’ said the insider.
‘Government policy has put us in this situation. We cannot furlough all our staff because we are still expected to play, but we are outlawed from any fans coming in. The solution rests with the Government.’
Fleetwood Town’s chief executive Steve Curwood agreed. ‘The amount of money is far from anything which will solve the problem,’ he told Sportsmail. ‘The Premier League are willing to play a part in the rescue package but at present the government are not.’
The clubs are caught in a cruel trap in which they have little income because of a ban on fans in stadiums, as well as widespread restrictions on events, and yet they have major outgoings to pay players and support staff to put matches on.
Fleetwood Town chief executive Steve Curwood says the Premier League bailout is not enough
As Sportsmail reported previously, eight clubs that could not pay their staff in October were temporarily saved by the EFL’s own emergency loan scheme in which money must be repaid at the beginning of next season.
A further four clubs are expected to fail to pay staff this month, with another eight likely to be in trouble by the end of the year. They are all expected to apply for emergency loans.
But beyond those clubs that are on the brink are many more facing the prospect of losing large numbers of staff, after the latest furlough scheme expires in December.
Tranmere Rovers have already had to make 20 staff redundant.
Club officials have privately told Sportsmail that they are looking at every aspect of their businesses, including on the playing side to find ways to further reduce expenditure.
And one chairman said: ‘Lots of clubs will be looking at pitch and grounds maintenance. The turnover that funds it in terms of gate receipts has gone. And they are asking can we manage with fewer staff like physios.
Last season clubs like Burton Albion benefited from additional income through cup ties, such as this Carabao Cup match against the then-Premier League side Bournemouth
This season Burton played Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup but behind closed doors
‘It’s a discussion clubs will be having with their managers to see if savings can be made.’
League One Burton Albion estimates the pandemic has cost the club £750,000 – more than 10 per cent of its annual turnover – and the it has already had to make two staff redundant as conferences, weddings and events, as well as matchday income, has all but disappeared.
‘From an employers’ point of view there has to be a job for them to do in the first place and that is what clubs are looking at,’ said chairman Ben Robinson, who stressed the club would do everything to keep its staff.
‘There could be thousands of job losses across the league. People will be losing their jobs because there is no business out there.’
Like many EFL clubs, Burton have pulled out all the stops to support their community. Their facilities have been used as a mass coronavirus-testing centre, a hub to deliver food parcels and as a facility to give flu jabs.
Burton chairman Ben Robinson has warned thousands of staff could lose their jobs in the EFL
‘I wonder whether the government really do get the bigger picture,’ said Robinson.
The Government has consistently said it expects the Premier League to fund stricken EFL clubs.
‘Redundancy is the reality of the situation. It is very real,’ agreed Port Vale chief executive Colin Garlick
Port Vale has managed to avoid redundancies so far and has directed staff towards a huge charitable effort in the Potteries.
The club, which will lose up to £1m as a result of the pandemic, has provided 160,000 meals to vulnerable people, 8,000 activity packs and thousands of food parcels.
But sooner or later the core business will have to return.
‘Money has been brought forward to support clubs, but it is kicking the can down the road,’ added Garlick. ‘Now, I think, the impact will kick in.’
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden (L) insists football has sufficient resources to support itself