The UK Government minister is willing to play a role in helping clubs stay in business but urged teams in the top flight to offer support
Premier League clubs must do their bit to support lower league teams deal with the financial problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, culture secretary Oliver Dowden says.
Clubs have suffered a huge financial blow since fans were no longer allowed to attend matches and the EFL has said its teams are set to lose a further £200 million ($255m) over the course of this season.
After meeting with the governing bodies of various sports earlier this week to discuss the financial impact of the restrictions currently in place, Dowden says the UK Government are willing to chip in to help keep clubs afloat but urged those in the top flight to “step up to the plate”.
“We stand ready to support clubs because they are such an important part of our local community. They were there at the height of the crisis, they had our back and now it’s time for the Government to have their back,” Dowden told Sky News. “The first thing we need to look to is the Premier League and I’ve been in contact with them this week.
“We’re all agreed the Premier League needs to step up to the plate and they’re having intensive discussions with the EFL over how they can support those clubs. They’re ready to play their part, and the Prime Minister and I have been urging them to do that.
He added: “The direction is clear, we understand the Premier League needs to play its part. I’m in close consultation with them and I’m hopeful they will be able to reach a deal and provide that level of support. Most people would agree against this backdrop of rapidly rising cases now is not the time to bring back crowds.”
This week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson froze plans to allow fans back into stadiums from October 1 and Dowden says he is unsure if they will be able to attend games by December.
“I would desperately love that to happen and we keep the situation under constant review,” he said.
“We are also investigating the use of new technology, working with the clubs who have done a fantastic job until now, but in this rapidly moving situation with the virus, we just need to exercise a little bit of caution which is what we’ve done in relation to October 1.
“Most people would agree against this backdrop of rapidly rising cases now is not the time to bring back crowds.”