Coronavirus: Huddersfield owner warns up to 60 clubs could go bust

Huddersfield Town chairman Neil Hodgkinson
Image: Huddersfield chairman Phil Hodgkinson says people in football are not willing to deal with the financial issues affecting clubs

Up to 60 clubs in the English football pyramid could go out of business because of the coronavirus pandemic, says Huddersfield owner Phil Hodgkinson.

Football in England has been suspended since March, with Championship clubs only returning to training in small groups from Monday.

The plan is for the Championship season to be completed behind closed doors, but Hodgkinson told the BBC: "It is what happens after that. If we don't come to an agreement there will be no football pyramid.

"There are clubs I know of that are only still trading because they are deferring wages and other creditors. They will need paying at some point.

"There is an absolutely real, stark probability that if something isn't agreed now within football to ensure all clubs can pay their bills and get through to the point where income is resumed, you will be looking at 50 or 60 clubs ceasing to exist."

Image: Huddersfield are set to return to training on Monday, along with other Championship clubs

Hodgkinson, who took charge of Huddersfield in 2019 and formerly owned National League North club Southport, accused people within football of failing to address the problem.

"We have been told by the government that there will be no large gatherings until there is a vaccine and that is likely to be in 2021," Hodgkinson said.

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"That means football clubs will lose a vast proportion of their income. In normal revenue, we are looking at losing between £7m and £10m. That is just us.

"So, what is football going to do to ensure the entire pyramid survives this? The discussion is being avoided. For the next three, six or 12 months clubs are going to have no income."

UK government approves close-contact training

The UK government has released its 'phase two' guidance for athletes and elite sportsmen and women to make a phased return to close-contact and competitive training, provided individual sports "have the appropriate, carefully controlled medical conditions in place".

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Alan Myers reports as Championship clubs get ready to resume training from Monday after more than 1,000 coronavirus tests produced just two positive results, both of them at Hull City

Public health officials and sports medical officers contributed to the guidelines, which permit organised and close-contact training to take place under carefully controlled medical conditions.

'Stage three' of the government's protocols are expected to centre around a return to professional sports in June.

As stated in the official advice, to enable competitors to reach fitness levels required for matches, close-contact training for elite athletes can include coaching and tackling in team sports within a two-metre distance.

Two positive at Hull after Champ testing

Two individuals from Hull have tested positive following the first round of coronavirus testing in the Championship.

The initial testing of Championship players, coaches and backroom staff took place on Thursday and Friday, with second-tier clubs due to resume training on Monday.

Hull confirmed the two people were asymptomatic and feeling no ill effects and would now self-isolate for seven days - in line with the EFL's protocols - before being tested again ahead of a possible return to training.

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