Talks regarding releasing extra cash to help the EFL and its clubs survive the coronavirus crisis are ongoing, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has said.
The decision to allow spectators back in reduced numbers at games in England from October 1st is now under government review after a rise in Covid-19 cases, placing even further financial pressure on EFL clubs which rely heavily on matchday revenue.
Masters told the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee on June 30 that there had been “no specific approach” from the EFL, but he said on Wednesday that discussions were now taking place.
The #PL have launched a fund to help non-league and women’s clubs prepare for the safe return of football and fans
The Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF) will manage the grants which will help make grounds safer given the risks posed by COVID-19
— Premier League Communities (@PLCommunities) September 2, 2020
“We are in conversation with our colleagues in the EFL,” he said.
“We all know the Premier League is a big supporter of the pyramid and we have already been able to release £200million worth of funds and made those commitments in relation to solidarity.
“We’ve been able to support the women’s game and creative funds for National League clubs were announced last week. So we want to help and we are in discussions with the EFL.
“We can’t put any time frame on it or go into any specifics at this stage.”
The Premier League released the remaining solidarity money for the 2019-20 season in April, at a time when its own competition was suspended, and it is understood half of the 2020-21 payments have already been advanced, with the remainder to be paid in January.
In addition, it has set up a fund to help more than 1,100 clubs prepare for the safe resumption of football and spectators to their stadiums, and provided funding to the National League in June which helped the fifth tier complete the 2019-20 play-offs.
Harrogate celebrate their promotion to the EFL via the National League play-offs (Adam Davy/PA)
At the same time £1m was given to the Women’s Super League and Championship which has enabled those competitions to start their 2020-21 seasons.
EFL chairman Rick Parry said in May that his clubs were facing a £200m financial hole by the end of September.
The EFL is understood to be considering alternatives to Premier League support, amid reports it was weighing up taking out a commercial loan.
Despite the recent setbacks, Masters remains confident that stadiums will be back at full capacity by the end of the 2020-21 season, and believes innovations around Covid passports and rapid testing will speed up the process.
“We remain very optimistic that can be achieved, that’s our ambition and our objective and we’re doing everything we can,” he said.
“We’re very pleased the government has set up this new technology and innovation group to look at how sport and entertainment can provide certain mitigation to investments into health passports and additional hygiene measures.
“That’s what that group is there for, we’re members of it and very supportive of it, what that will allow us to do hopefully is that when stadiums are allowed to take people in, we can move swiftly beyond the SGSA guidelines and move towards full capacity.”
The Premier League announced on Tuesday that all 28 matches in September would be screened by one of its broadcast partners with no fans allowed inside the stadium.
A decision on whether to extend that into October will follow, Masters said, “when we know the full picture” regarding the return of spectators.
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