Politicians call upon on Premier League to ‘step up’ and help Football League

A stark report from the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee has called upon football

A stark report from the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee has called upon football to 'reset' in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Photo: PA - Credit: PA

Politicians have called upon the Premier League to ‘step up’ and help the Football League in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

A stark report from the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee, which was chaired by Conservative MP Julian Knight, states: “The Premier League is the main income generator of English football. If it does not step up to help the English Football League, many more clubs will follow in Bury FC’s footsteps. The EFL needs also to ensure it develops a more sustainable financial model.”

Knight, in a subsequent interview, has said there are ‘10 to 15 EFL clubs on a watchlist right now in terms of whether they go bust’.

The report added: “Parachute payments must become a thing of the past, and considerable work must be done to advance work on salary caps.”

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In response, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters told the committee its annual £200m funding to the EFL – as a ‘big supporters of the pyramid’ – was paid prior to the pandemic and would continue ‘despite significant losses’ to the league and its clubs.

He also said there has been ‘no specific approach from the EFL about any rescue package.

Masters explained that ‘safety net’ parachute payments allow newly promoted clubs to ‘invest and be competitive’ in the top flight.

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During the pandemic, Championship side Wigan Athletic entered administration and EFL chairman Rick Parry told the committee that clubs face a ‘£200m hole’ from lost revenue.

That comes just months after Bury were expelled from the EFL because of financial difficulties.

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Several Premier League clubs put non-playing staff on furlough during the pandemic despite continuing to pay players’ wages in full, decisions – some of which were later reversed – the committee said were ‘deplorable’.

Parry, in evidence to the DCMS committee in May, said it was ‘difficult to answer’ how many clubs could go out of business as a result of the pandemic. He said a ‘complete reset’ was needed, suggesting a redistribution of revenue in the sport.

The report also stated that football must become more representative of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups and outlaw homophobic chanting; that a lack of women’s elite sport ‘risks undoing work to improve funding’; and that the government should fund advertisements to encourage a return to recreational sport ‘without fear’.

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