Premier League need to 'step up' for EFL clubs, says Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden

September 27, 2020

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has called for the Premier League to "step up to the plate" and provide financial support for EFL clubs through the coronavirus crisis.

The EFL says its clubs stand to lose £200m without crowds, having already lost £50m last season, amid fears that without crowds some EFL clubs will disappear.

Dowden told Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday: "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.

"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."

Dowden said the Premier League will meet on Tuesday now that the Government has effectively ruled out any fans attending matches until March.

He said: "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."

Asked if crowds would return by the end of the season, Dowden replied: "I would desperately love that to happen and we keep the situation under constant review.

"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."

'Government treating football differently to other sectors'

Forest Green Rovers chairman Dale Vince believes the Government is treating football differently to other aspects of society, believing it is their responsibility to help bail out lower league clubs.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Vince said: "I think really it's the government's responsibility. You know they have a responsibility to the whole country to bail out the sectors of society that need it the most.

"We've seen them do that with the arts, we've seen them do it with airlines to a degree, the furlough scheme, stuff like that.

"I think the government needs to step up. I know that people often say that the Premier League should chip in and I think it would be nice if they did because they can, but the responsibility has to be the governments.

"They spent £500m just in August paying people to go to pubs to have burger and chips, the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, 500 million quid.

"Football at this level doesn't need that much. It is the government's responsibility."

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