By David Williams
Cash-starved football clubs beneath the Premier League hoping for some financial help from the top flight have been told: Don’t hold your breath.
The bleak warning not to expect much help from the moneyed clubs at the top of the food chain has come from Premier League chief executive Richard Masters.
Newport County and other clubs in League Two have been running on empty since the lockdown in March, while even Championship clubs such as Cardiff City and Swansea City have been left contemplating very tough times ahead.
Huddersfield owner Phil Hodgkinson has said that around “50 or 60” clubs were in danger of going bust if supporters were not allowed to attend fixtures next season.
Leading TV pundit Gary Neville has echoed those fears, but in an interview with Sky Sports News, Masters made it plain that the Premier League’s priority was to assist their own 20 clubs.
Masters said: “At the moment, we are dealing with our own financial situation. Until we are able to get back playing – until we have a clear plan to start season 2021, we are dealing with our own financial situation.
“So at the moment, we have made good all of our solidarity contributions to the pyramid for 2019/20 and indeed we have forwarded a big chunk of next year’s revenue forward and we’re committed to completing that.
“But I think what we have to get ourselves into is a situation where we are sure of the Premier League’s financial situation at a time when clubs are suffering significant revenue before we can turn to that topic.”
The Premier League is aiming for a June 17 resumption, pending UK government approval, with a view to completing the remaining 92 matches of the 2019-20 season.
The first matches back are slated to be Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal, which would complete the 29th round of fixtures. A full set of fixtures would then take place across the weekend of June 19-21.
A return for the Championship is anticipated but League One and League Two look set to go the way of Welsh domestic and Scottish football, with early curtailments.
Neville is concerned about a looming financial “nightmare” for English Football League clubs and the former Manchester United and England full-back believes the EFL will need investment down the line to keep clubs solvent.
“It will be July, August, September, October where the real pressure comes,” Neville said on The Football Show on Sky Sports.
“I do think there will be clubs considering going into administration in the next three to four months, basically just to save themselves.
“Everybody’s looking down at their own feet and they’re not seeing the carnage that’s coming economically in the next three to four months.
“Football does need at the EFL level some funding from somewhere in the next four, five or six months or else we will see sides go into administration, that would be a real shame.”