Premier League 'may be reluctant' to bail out EFL clubs

"Nowhere else is a company being asked to support a competitor and I think a lot of Premier League clubs will think 'why should we bail out clubs in the Championship who might be competing with us this time next year?'"

EFL clubs have seen their income enormously reduced by the inability to fully open their stadiums during the coronavirus crisis
Image: EFL clubs have seen their income enormously reduced by the inability to fully open their stadiums during the coronavirus crisis

Sky News business presenter Ian King believes there may be a reluctance by Premier League clubs to offer financial support to their EFL counterparts.

Every League One club contacted by Sky Sports as part of a recent survey felt teams in the English top flight should provide assistance as they deal with the loss of income generated through the absence of matchday revenue due to the coronavirus crisis.

Six clubs in that level say they are not confident they will be able to complete the current season without a bailout.

There are ongoing discussions between the Premier League, the government and the EFL as to whether financial assistance will be granted but King feels it may not be forthcoming.

"Looking at some of the comments you're hearing it doesn't feel like that is going to be imminent - the government has made it very clear that it feels the Premier League should support clubs elsewhere in the league pyramid," he said.

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The staff at Rochdale explain the finanical difficulties their club, like many others, are experiencing due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic

"But if you look at other sectors, nowhere else is a company being asked to support a competitor, it just doesn't happen like that and I think a lot of Premier League clubs will think 'why should we bail out clubs, for example, in the Championship who might be competing with us this time next year?'

"It's a very strange set of circumstances. The Premier League is awash with cash but even there we're seeing their ability to spend being crimped. If you look at Arsenal they are quite dependent on matchday revenue so their ability to support their competitors might have been crimped."

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Steve Bruce, Manager of Newcastle United looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on July 08, 2020 in Manchester, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. 1:20
Newcastle's Steve Bruce says all clubs are being hit by the coronavirus but it's not down to the Premier League to bail out clubs in the divisions below them

King did, however, cite the example of Ollie Watkins - a product of a League Two club, Exeter City - as evidence that the Premier League is still reliant on the EFL for player recruitment.

"A classic example is Ollie Watkins - he scored a hat-trick for Aston Villa against Liverpool on Sunday and he came from Brentford, but before he was at Brentford he was at Exeter City, a club right down the pyramid," he said.

"Exeter got something like £4m in add-ons when he moved from Brentford to Aston Villa so that's a perfect example of how a player nurtured in the lower leagues can provide the talent base for the future.

"But also look at where Premier League clubs have been buying during this window - they've been buying a lot more from Europe than they have from the Championship and lower down the pyramid."

'EFL valuable part of ecosystem'

Fleetwood chief executive Steve Curwood says the EFL is a "valuable part of the ecosystem" in football and that something needs to be done now to ensure clubs in the lower leagues survive.

"Seventy per cent of the clubs in the Premier League, at some stage over the period the Premier League has been in inception, have been part of the EFL," Curwood told Sky Sports News.

"We all know what benefit the EFL brings to the wider pyramid and the wider game.

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Fleetwood chief executive Steve Curwood hopes that the Premier League and Government can work together to help EFL clubs who are struggling financially.

"Harry Kane may not have got a contract and might have been released at the age 21 had it not been for that loan system.

"We look at the 31 players called up last weekend [for England], 80 per cent of those player have touched the EFL at some point in their journey.

"It's a valuable part of the ecosystem which exists within English football and it must be allowed to continue.

"This is coming very quickly. If we don't resolve this very quickly we are going to find those clubs who won't be there, and this is not three, four or five months down the line - this is now."

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