The Premier League is coming under ‘increasing pressure’ to deliver on the government’s demand to help the ‘entire football family’ ahead of the league’s return to action.
English football has been suspended since mid-March amid the coronavirus pandemic, though plans for the league’s behind-closed-doors return are accelerating ahead of a restart date of June 17.
The government has given its backing to the resumption of the Premier League later this month, however, on the provisions that certain conditions would be met. Culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, revealed two challenges to football’s return to action, stating free access to broadcasted fixtures and that the resumption of the season benefits ‘the entire football family’.
We set 2 challenges for football’s return to action behind closed doors
1. Widen access with more free to view matches so fans can support safely from 🏠 #homeadvantage
— Oliver Dowden (@OliverDowden) May 30, 2020
The Premier League has been tasked with helping with the financial impact of the Covid-19 crisis, but according to the Telegraph, the league is now coming under increasing pressure with ‘no new money’ having been forthcoming to the rest of the pyramid as a result of the league’s restart.
The Premier League is already contractually committed to solidarity payments to the rest of the professional pyramid – which have been advanced for this summer – but there has been no additional finances to help with the crisis facing EFL clubs.
EFL chairman, Rick Parry, has warned that lower league clubs are facing a £200m financial black hole following the coronavirus crisis, whilst Salford City co-owner, Gary Neville, has called on Premier League clubs to ‘solve the crisis in the lower leagues’.
Each of the EFL’s 71 representative clubs is set to meet on June 8 to discuss proposals on how to finish the season, with several Championship sides having expressed their concerns over a proposed June 20 restart of England’s second tier.
League One sides remain split on whether to resume or curtail the current campaign, whilst League Two sides have already voted in favour of ending the 2019/20 campaign, though the majority of clubs are against any club being relegated into non-league.
Meanwhile, the financial implications in the lower leagues has led to a controversial decision from League One Sunderland, who have announced fans will not receive a refund (or discount for next season) for games being played behind-closed-doors.
The North East side have said fans will be provided with access to streaming services to watch fixtures, whilst the same policy will apply next season should fixtures remain behind-closed-doors, with fans set to be asked to pay more to watch away games.
Sunderland have justified the decision by insisting the club need to maintain ‘operational income’ during the current crisis, though the decision is likely to see many fail to renew their season passes for next season.