EFL: the future of some clubs in the Football League beyond Christmas in doubt

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A crowd of 862 watched Cambridge beat the Fulham U21s in the EFL Trophy on September 8 – the first elite competitive football game to welcome fans since the lockdown.

Some clubs in the English Football League will find it difficult to stay afloat beyond Christmas if there is a delay in the wider fan return and if a financial bailout is not urgently obtained, BBC Sport has been informed.

Discussions are ongoing about what help the Premier League could provide, with a claim having been made for around £ 200million.

Top club owners are believed to have asked for assurances on how the money would be spent, given fears that it will fuel wage inflation or be used for transfers.

The BBC has learned that if the money doesn’t start coming in weeks, whether from crowds or financial aid, some clubs face an uncertain future.

Some sports are bracing for the possibility of the Oct. 1 target being pushed back by a month, given the recent surge in coronavirus infection rates and concerns about increased use of the transportation system and perception of the public to allow crowds.

However, the times were not discussed in a meeting between sports and culture secretary Oliver Dowden on Wednesday which was called “constructive and productive”.

Instead, sports had the opportunity to discuss the “dire financial situation” they are facing and the implications if fans cannot return soon.

Currently, pilots are capped at a maximum capacity of 1,000 people and are not allowed in areas where local locks are in place.

Meanwhile, the government is reviewing its plans for returning fans next month and has said it will complete it “quickly”.

A joint statement issued by the governing bodies of football, tennis, horse racing, cricket, rugby league and rugby union said: “We have communicated to the Secretary of State the very serious financial situation our sports, clubs and venues are currently facing and which we believe we can organize events in a safe way.

“It is clear that if the supporters cannot come back soon, there will be very serious economic implications in our sports sector.

“Our sports have already demonstrated, through holding closed-door meetings, in test events and through the return of recreational sport, that we can deliver the highest standards of safety and best practice.

“We will continue to work with the government in the days to come and provide any further evidence required.

“We strongly believe that sports fans will be as safe as in other currently permitted areas of activity. “

Lancashire County Cricket Club general manager Daniel Gidney told BBC Sport on Wednesday: “After the World Cup and the ashes of last year, these were big events and it was hard to get over that, but at in many ways this year has been more difficult and complicated.

“We normally do two to six days of international cricket and we’ve done 21. I’m incredibly proud, it’s a story. “

Asked what would have happened if the matches had not been played, Gidney replied: “When Tom [Harrison, ECB chief executive] was before the DCMS committee he said it would be a £ 300million hit and those numbers don’t lie.

“Without the broadcast games, we envisioned that £ 200million in broadcast revenue would be at risk, meaning the 18 counties would not be able to get the cast numbers from the governing body, which would have easily could have meant some of the counties had gone bankrupt. It would have been a number of jobs and institutions lost to the game. ”

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