EFL chairman says clubs feel victimised by government's lack of support
Parry says clubs need £400m from their owners to survive
EFL chairman Rick Parry has criticised the government for its lack of financial support to clubs throughout the coronavirus pandemic and the continued ban on supporters attending matches.
In a letter addressed to culture secretary Oliver Dowden, Parry has outlined the concerns of the EFL clubs, many of whom are facing the very real threat of extinction in the coming months if they continue to operate without fans coming through the doors on match days.
"For some reason, football is being regarded as a peculiarly undeserving case and, as a result, many of our clubs have now reached the conclusion that we are at best being ignored by a government that doesn't understand our national sport and at worst being victimised by it," Parry wrote.
"Ultimately, the football public will judge the performance of this Conservative government on how many football clubs remain in business once the pandemic finally subsides.
"Certainly, those communities that are inextricably linked to their local team will never forgive it if their beloved football clubs are driven into extinction."
Parry noted that the arts have received a £1.5bn aid package, but stadiums are still not allowed to accommodate fans.
"While football grounds in Rochdale, Grimsby, Mansfield and Carlisle might seem an awful long way from Glyndebourne or the Royal Ballet, they are nonetheless equally import parts of our nation's heritage," Parry said.
"It must have dawned on you that it is deeply unfair that cultural institutions like these are receiving government hand-outs while also being able to generate revenues by admitting the paying public. Yet at the same time, football is told to support itself and its clubs have to play behind closed doors.
"I am sure you can understand how this disparity in approach must look to football fans in constituencies across the country."
Parry insisted the government work together with EFL clubs to come to a solution that helps clubs survive the economic crisis induced by the pandemic.
"In our view, this must involve getting fans safely back into stadia as quickly as possible and, in the meantime, providing relief on PAYE payments to HMRC so that clubs do not continue to haemorrhage cash while playing behind closed doors," he said.
"In any event, clubs will soon begin defaulting on these payments and the government would be better off managing this situation rather than having it land on its toes."
The government have reiterated their stance that while they understand not being able to attend matches is frustrating, it is not possible while cases of COVID-19 continue to rise.
"We have been clear that professional football has the means to support itself and have been assured by the football authorities that they have no intention to let any club go bust due to the pandemic," a DCMS spokesperson said.
"We have secured a package for the National League and our focus is now on supporting those sports and sectors that need it most and can not look after themselves. We urge the EFL and Premier League to finalise a deal as soon as possible."