Premier League and EFL told by MPs their efforts to bail out lower league clubs in danger of extinction due to the coronavirus pandemic are a ‘FARCE’ after failing to come up with a rescue plan for seven months
- Premier League chief executive Richard Masters and EFL chairman Rick Parry have appeared before the DCMS committee to answer questions over a bail out
- Committee chairman Julian Knight accused them of a ‘farce’ after the two organisations failed to put in place a rescue plan after seven months
- Knight says ten clubs in the EFL are not expected to make payroll in November
- Masters defended his organisation saying it had stepped up to help the EFL
The chief executive of the Premier League and chairman of the EFL have been told their efforts to help clubs pushed to the brink of extinction by the cornavirus pandemic have been a ‘farce’.
Richard Masters and Rick Parry appeared before the Department of Culture Media and Sport Select Committee on Tuesday to answer questions over the long-awaited bail out of lower league clubs.
And committee chairman, MP Julian Knight, was not mincing his words.
Chairman of the DCMS select committee Julian Knight has not minced his words
‘Frankly it feels as if negotiations have taken far too long,’ he said. ‘And there is a degree of farce about them when it comes to Project Big Picture.’
The committee has been highly critical of Project Big Picture, which was widely seen as a power grab by the country’s biggest clubs, taking advantage of the fact that the pandemic has left lower leagues sides financially weakened,
Knight said that professional football was only allowed to return last season with an agreement that the Premier League would strike a deal with the EFL to bail out clubs that are in danger of going bust.
‘Ten EFL clubs are unlikely to make pay roll this month,’ said Knight. ‘But you spend £1.2 billion in the transfer window.
Rick Parry, chairman of the EFL ( left) and the Premier League’s chief executive Richard Masters (right) whave appeared before MPs on the DCMS Select Committee
‘The idea of allowing you to come back was to allow you to help the rest of the sport.’
Teams in the Championship, League One and Two depend on matchday income for up to a third of their revenue, but since the government banned the return of fans to stadiums they have struggled to make ends meet.
The government has made clear that it expects the Premier League to assist the EFL in the financial crisis, which has resulted from the pandemic.
Knight said 10 EFL clubs will not make payroll this month as the pandemic hits hard
And yet, seven months in no deal has been struck.
Knight added: ‘The committee would like to see you come to a deal in double-quick time when it comes to League One and Two.
‘It seems you are thrashing out in all directions to drag anything into this argument to make it more political than it needs to be, which is basically about football doing its job.’
The Premier League has offered a mixture of loans and grants to support Leagues One and Two
The EFL has introduced a £50m emergency loan fund for clubs on the edge of administration
Richard Masters, chief executive of the Premier League, defended the efforts of his own organisation, the Football Association and the EFL.
‘We have been asked to step up and I believe we are doing that,’ he said.
‘The three organisations have worked on a complex calendar to maximise opportunity for all of us.
‘In a broad offer to the EFL we have said no club need to go out of business due to Covid-related reasons during the season.’
Clubs in England’s lower leagues have struggled financially, especially during the pandemic
Masters said there was an offer on the table of £20m in grants and £30m in loans for League One and Two clubs.
Support for Championship clubs that cannot afford to pay their way is also under discussion.
He added that the Premier League had maintained regular payments to the EFL of £110m last year and this year, despite its own clubs expecting to lose £1 billion themselves this season, due to the pandemic.
Msters added: ‘”The Premier League has engaged and wants to seek resolution but there can’t be a blank cheque or an underwriting of losses.’
Masters told MPs that there was an offer on the table for League One and Two clubs
EFL chairman Parry hopes a deal with the Premier League can be agreed by the end of the month.
Asked by Julian Knight MP whether that would be the case, Parry replied: “I think now we have a commitment that the Championship is going to be embraced we can move forwards. We sincerely hope so.
“We would very much like to come to a deal with the Premier League.”
Parry said that he was hopeful a deal would be struck with the Premier League this month
Meanwhile, Masters confirmed that the Premier League will be “changing direction” away from pay-per-view.
The decision to broadcast several games behind an additional paywall has been hugely criticised and the Premier League will change tack.