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Coronavirus: Bristol City CEO Mark Ashton says club supports a Championship salary cap amid pandemic

The EFL has told Sky Sports News talks are ongoing between clubs and the governing body over proposed wage reductions for players in English football's second tier

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Bristol City CEO and EFL board member Mark Ashton believes a salary cap for the Championship could be introduced before the end of the 2020/21 season

Bristol City's CEO Mark Ashton has told Sky Sports News a salary cap could be introduced for Championship clubs this season, amid the financial turmoil the coronavirus pandemic has caused for the EFL.

In an EGM last month, League One and Two sides voted in favour of implementing financial controls in the form of salary reductions for playing staff, which amount to £2.5m in League One and £1.5m in League Two.

These proposals came into effect ahead of the start to the 2020/21 campaign for the third and fourth tiers, while Championship clubs met in July to hold preliminary talks over introducing an £18m cap.

League One and Two clubs will vote tomorrow on a salary cap
Image: League One and Two clubs voted in favour of a salary cap, with discussions ongoing over implementing one in the Championship

Mark Ashton CEO Bristol City joined the EFL Board two years ago as an elected representative of the Championship.

Ashton said: "League One and League Two have that [the salary cap] in place, I think there is a real possibility that by the end of this season it will come into the Championship.

"I think it's something that we can talk about increasing revenue we can talk about money coming into the Championship but we need to close the door at the other end.

"We need to control and close salary inflation. I believe salary caps would do that and from a Bristol City prespective we support that and we would like to see it in place as soon as we can in the Championship."

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In response, the EFL has told Sky Sports News that discussions are ongoing between the governing body and second tier clubs concerning a proposed salary cap.

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Colchester Utd chairman Robbie Cowling is 'angry' at the government's decision to stop the return of fans and fears clubs could go out of business as a result

The coronavirus pandemic has had a severe financial impact upon the EFL, despite the fact that some clubs exercised the option to furlough their playing and non-playing staff while leagues were suspended during the UK's lockdown between March and June, and many individually introduced temporary wage cuts and deferrals.

Macclesfield Town were wound up in the High Court after the club owed more than £500,000, while a case involving Southend United has been adjourned in the hope that bosses at the League Two club can clear tax debts, with case expected to be reconsidered the coming few weeks.

In a further blow to clubs, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced earlier this week that the proposed October 1 date for introducing a phased return of supporters to sports stadia across the UK could be on hold for six months due to fears over the growing rate of coronavirus infections.

The decision has been met with stauch criticism from the football community with clubs set to be plunged into further economic jeapordy, including from Robbie Cowling, chairman of League Two club Colchester United, who penned an open letter to Johnson stating that the move threatens "livelihoods of every club across every sport in the UK".

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EFL chairman Rick Parry says they made a 'robust case' for the return of fans despite the government's decision to pause their comeback

Premier League chiefs are in talks with the EFL regarding a support package, with League chairman Rick Parry claiming that £200m could be lost for clubs across the three divisions if the enitre 2020/21 campaign goes ahead behind closed doors.

On the recent decision from the government, Ashton added: "I fully understand these are difficult and unchartered times we are in. But as football clubs we have real specialists who operate and run our stadiums, they are governed by independent people in safety and advisory groups.

"We need to agree now a roadmap with the government to see supporters return safely to stadiums. But we need to do that now, there is no tomorrow in this for a number football clubs, we need to be acting now to see fans returning as quickly as possible.

"We got the games away at the end of last season by working with government. We need to do that again now because we need to see fans back in these stadiums."

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