The Government have been warned that the delay in allowing fans back into stadiums is a ‘nightmare’ which risks jeopardising the entire English football pyramid because of the impending financial catastrophe.
Test events, now limited to 1,000 fans due to new Government restrictions, took place at seven EFL games on Saturday including Championship clubs Norwich and Middlesbrough.
But West Ham’s Karren Brady says they could host 20,000 at the London Stadium safely and experts warn that without a change in Government thinking a sporting financial meltdown is imminent.
The Government have been warned that supporters need to return to stadiums soon
Tuesday’s cabinet meeting is seen as crucial in determining whether the Government will go ahead with the planned October 1 date for readmission of some fans, though it looks increasingly likely the best the Premier League can hope for is test events of about 2,500 fans.
But EFL executives are warning they cannot live on handouts and tax deferrals for ever.
Lee Hoos, chief executive at Championship club QPR, says that it cost clubs tens of thousands to put on games at present, which is unsustainable.
QPR chief executive Lee Hoos says clubs are having to pay tens of thousands to stage games
Hoos said: ‘League One and Two are already talking about how long clubs can continue to put on games and lose money. The most amazing thing is how long it took for Wigan to go into administration.
‘If clubs get to a point where they have nothing coming through the gates and decide to terminate the season, that could be the end of the English football pyramid as we know it.
‘We need to have some revenue coming in. We’re not an industry that receives a Government bailout. We need the opportunity to stand on our own two feet.
‘Safety has to be the No1 priority. But there’s been a considerable amount of work with Sports Ground Safety Authority and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in terms of how we can do this safely. We have plans submitted with the local council to say this is how we could get people in. We’re just waiting for the OK.’
Experts warn that without a change in Government thinking a sporting financial meltdown is imminent
Test events of 1,000 fans took place at Norwich, Middlesbrough, Charlton, Blackpool, Shrewsbury, Forest Green Rovers and Carlisle on Saturday but the Premier League suspended their test events, saying 1,000 fans weren’t a large enough cohort to provide meaningful data.
Brady, who wrote in her newspaper column that Premier League clubs were collectively losing £80million a month in gate receipts, said: ‘It is becoming increasingly difficult to see what the delay in bringing back spectators to football is all about —