Government demands for Premier League to hand EFL £250m bail-out slammed by MPs and two ex-FA chairman

GOVERNMENT demands for Premier League clubs to pay the £250million EFL bail-out have been criticised by MPs and two former FA chairmen.

Lord Triesman and Greg Dyke are among the signatories to the letter, written by Tory MP Damian Collins.

And in a stinging rebuke of Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, the group says it is the Government, and not Premier League clubs, who must be responsible for keeping the lower tiers of English football alive.

They say: “We understand that you had hoped that the Premier League clubs might make a significant additional contribution to support the EFL.

“Whilst this would be welcome, those clubs too face swingeing losses from lost ticketing receipts and falling revenues from broadcasting matches.

“However, it cannot be the Premier League's sole responsibility to sort out issues arising from Government policy.

“The Government itself needs to take responsibility or many already-embattled towns – often in areas of the country which have suffered many hardships in recent decades – will lose their last focal point.”

Triesman – Wembley head from 2008 to 2010 – and Dyke, who ran the FA between 2013 and 2016, are powerful voices with strong political connections.

Along with Collins, recently deposed as chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, the other Westminster signatories featured four Tory MPs including former Deputy Prime Minister Damian Green as well as Labour’s Kevin Brennan and Clive Betts.

Others signing the letter included National League vice-president Lord Faulkner, Malcolm Clarke of the Football Supporters Association and Robbie Savage.

Dowden further infuriated League chiefs by his weekend assertion that top-flight clubs should “help poorer clubs rather than spend huge amounts of money hiring a new striker”.

Now, though, he has been put on the back foot by the letter, which will be welcomed by League bosses.

The group added that it had previously advised the Government of the issues faced by the EFL as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

They added: “Clubs have been able to sustain themselves through advance season ticket sales, solidarity payments from the Premier League, and had agreed to start playing the new season in the belief that fans would be allowed to return to stadiums this autumn.

“It’s now clear that spectators will not be back in EFL grounds, even in limited numbers, for the foreseeable future.

“As a consequence clubs will not only lose this budgeted for income, but will also have to refund season tickets to fans who will now be prevented from attending matches.

“It’s clear that the Government has no current proposals to provide financial support, and nor is it prepared to offer any guarantees for the future.

“Without any plans being made to rescue football clubs, many in the EFL and others in the National League as well, are now actively preparing to make all but essential staff redundant, cease playing, close down their youth academies and community foundations, and put their business into administration.

“This could lead not only to the failure of many historic community clubs, but the collapse of the national league structure that we have known for over one hundred years.

“There is still time to act, but not long left.

“The Government made £1.5billion available to rescue arts and cultural organisations across the country that faced closure because of the coronavirus.

“We believe that football, like other well-loved professional sports in this country, is also a cultural activity.

“We would ask that the government now make clear what financial support it’s prepared to give before it is too late.

“In order for clubs to sustain themselves over the winter and keep playing, they would need to be compensated for the loss of match ticket sales.

“The absence of this income is not a result of their actions, but the policies that have been put in place by the government in response to a public health emergency.”

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