Town’s 2020/21 season could be delayed until fans are allowed back at grounds
- Credit: Rachel Edge
The 2020/21 League One season could be delayed until fans can attend games again, EFL chairman Rick Parry has said.
While discussions are ongoing about how and when to finish the current season, which has been suspended since March 7 due to the coronavirus crisis, Parry said that next season could also be impacted if games are forced behind closed doors.
As it stands, it’s almost certain that no fans will be allowed at games if and when the current EFL season restarts, and some reports suggest that supporters won’t be able to return to grounds until 2021.
Parry said: “At League One and Two level, gate receipts represent 32 per cent of income, slightly less than that in the Championship. Gate receipts are absolutely fundamental and that applies not just to this season but increasingly it applies to next season,” he said.
“I think we have to think long and hard about how we go about starting next season, or indeed whether we start next season without crowds.”
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Asked how much money clubs would retrieve if the current season could be finished, Parry added: “If we were starting behind closed doors it’s finely balanced economically. It’s probably almost neutral and for many clubs it would actually cost them to play.
“We stand to lose an element of broadcast money if we’re unable to complete the season but given our broadcast contract is clearly nowhere near that of the Premier League that’s a relatively small contribution.
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“So it’s not really the economics of ‘we need to finish the season in order to generate revenue’ it is the sporting integrity part of ‘we want to complete the season because then we have promotion and relegation, and we finish the season clean’.
“At the EFL, aggregate attendances of 18 million, we’re a spectator sport, we’re not an international event in the way the Premier League is. Without spectators, the clubs are hurting. We are looking at ways of streaming our product via iFollow which is a hugely successful EFL streaming platform, so we would be able to recoup some money that way, but it wouldn’t make up for the whole shortfall.”
Parry has previously said it would take 56 days to complete the EFL seasons, including play-offs. June 6 has been suggested as the date matches would need to restart by to ensure the season is finished by the end of July.