LONDON (AP) — The British government increased the pressure on the Premier League on Sunday to provide financial assistance for football clubs struggling financially in lower divisions, with supporters still not allowed into stadiums.
Premier League clubs will hold a virtual meeting on Tuesday to discuss whether to provide further funds to the English Football League, which features 72 clubs across three divisions.
“We’re all agreed the Premier League needs to step up to the plate and they’re having intensive discussions with the EFL over how they can support those clubs,” Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told broadcaster Sky News on Sunday. “The direction is clear, we understand the Premier League needs to play its part. I’m in close consultation with them and I’m hopeful they will be able to reach a deal and provide that level of support.”
The EFL has estimated that its 72 clubs will lose 200 million pounds ($255 million) if there are no crowds for the rest of this season, which began earlier this month. The EFL said they have lost 50 million pounds during last season’s pandemic disruption.
Fears about a second wave of coronavirus infections forced the government to abandon plans to start letting spectators back into sports events from October, denying clubs a key source of revenue.
“We keep the situation under constant review,” Dowden said. “We are also investigating the use of new technology, working with the clubs who have done a fantastic job until now.
“If it’s all possible of course I would like it to happen (for fans to return), but, in this rapidly moving situation with the virus, we just need to exercise a little bit of caution which is what we’ve done in relation to October 1. Most people would agree against this backdrop of rapidly rising cases now is not the time to bring back crowds.”
Last season, the Premier League’s 20 clubs agreed to advance funds of 125 million pounds ($150 million) to clubs in the EFL and fifth-tier National League.
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