Former FA chief warns coronavirus could leave EFL clubs facing ruin

Mark Palios has warned lower division clubs face “hand-to-mouth hardship” after English football's coronavirus lockdown.

Ex-Football Association chief executive Palios, now chairman of League One strugglers Tranmere Rovers, estimates the Wirral club could lose up to £500,000 of matchday income and associated revenue if the 2019-20 season is canned.

Rovers will be insulated against financial apocalypse because of money set aside for “capital projects” which can be reassigned to ease cash-flow problems at Prenton Park.

But Palios fears for lower division clubs with gates of 2,000 – who will struggle to pay staff and players' wages during the standstill.

He said: “We should be OK because we can pull one or two projects and dip into the money set aside for them to sustain day-to-day running of the club in the short term.

“But you don't have to go very far to find examples of critical hand-to-mouth hardship across the lower leagues where paying the players' wages is going to be very difficult.

“If you are banking on the income from six or seven home games between now and the end of the season, and that revenue stream dries up, there are going to be clubs who are severely impacted.

“At lower levels, players have mortgages and household bills to pay and if clubs are already on their financial limit, it is not easy to maintain the food chain.”

Instead of letting it go to waste, Premier League Aston Villa will distribute food prepared for today's postponed game with Chelsea to homeless charities.

But when the money runs out lower down the ladder, hardship bites hard. Last year, cash-strapped Bolton Wanderers were forced to set up their own food bank to help staff eat properly when wages went unpaid.

Palios warned: “You might try and go down the route of borrowing, but in this climate banks are reluctant to loan money to firms with no obvious way of repaying the debt.

“The Government has put money aside to help small businesses through the crisis, but there is not a lot of sympathy for football out there because wages at the top end are so far ahead of 'normal' incomes.

Source: Read Full Article