England’s lower league clubs reject Premier League aid

LONDON (AFP) – England’s lower league clubs have rejected the Premier League’s offer of a GBP50 million rescue package aimed at easing the financial fallout from the coronavirus.

The Premier League had agreed to offer the aid package to clubs in League One and League Two following government calls for top-flight teams to help less wealthy clubs.

The GBP50 million deal would have been on top of GBP27.2 million already advanced by the Premier League to the lower leagues in the form of solidarity payments.

But EFL chiefs announced on Thursday that the bailout was insufficient and insisted Championship clubs should also be included in any offer.

The snub comes just 24 hours after Premier League clubs rejected the controversial ‘Project Big Picture’ plans proposed by Liverpool and Manchester United to drastically change the structure of the English game.

“The need for continued unity across the membership base was fundamental to discussions across all three divisions, and therefore there was a strong consensus that any rescue package must meet the requirements of all 72 clubs before it can be considered in full,” an EFL statement said.

“The League has been very clear in its discussions of the financial requirements needed to address lost gate receipts in 2019/20 and 2020/21.”

“While EFL clubs are appreciative that a formal proposal has now been put forward, the conditional offer of GBP50 million falls some way short of this.

“The EFL is keen to continue discussions with the Premier League to reach an agreeable solution that will address the short-term financial needs of all of our clubs and allow us the ability to consider the longer-term economic issues in parallel that specifically look to achieve a more sustainable EFL for the future.”

In the ‘Project Big Picture’ plan, which featured heavy involvement from Football League chairman Rick Parry, lower league teams would have received 25 per cent of all future TV deals, plus a GBP250 million bailout.

With matches likely to be played behind closed doors well into 2021 because of the pandemic, Preston advisor Peter Ridsdale has warned that some clubs in the lower leagues could fold by end of December unless they get funding.