The chairman of the FA, Greg Clarke, has warned of huge financial problems within the English game amid the coronavirus pandemic and says the FA wants to finish the season, if they can.
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Clarke issued an open letter after days of criticism across the English game as Premier League clubs have been criticized for applying for the UK government’s furlough scheme which will pay staff 80 percent of their current wages.
Liverpool issued an apology and reversed their decision to furlough 200 staff members, while players have revealed various views on whether or not the 2019-20 season should be finished or deemed null and void.
“We are committed to finishing the professional football season as this resolves the issues of promotion and relegation together with title winners on merit. However, we may not be able to finish the season as football is not our priority, human life is, and we will do as the Government directs as the pandemic unfolds,” Clarke explained.
The head of the English FA admitting that they may not be able to finish the season is a big statement, as previously the stance of everyone involved in the pro game in England has been that the season should be completed.
As for the road ahead, nobody knows the long-term impact it will have and how long it will take for things to get back to normal. With revenue streams disappearing overnight, clubs and leagues are scrambling and several clubs in the lower tiers of English soccer are in serious danger and are taking advantage of the UK government’s furloughing scheme.
“Football faces economic challenges beyond the wildest imagination of those who run it. The pandemic will be followed by its economic consequences and all business sectors will suffer. We face the danger of losing clubs and leagues as finances collapse,” Clarke said. “Many communities could lose the clubs at their heart with little chance of resurrection. In the face of this unprecedented adversity, all the stakeholders within the game from players, fans, clubs, owners and administrators need to step up and share the pain to keep the game alive.
“Everyone should understand that the Premier League clubs are not immune from the impact of this and whilst they are impacted to different degrees depending on their cost base, the potential overall financial impact is huge. We must have a plan to ensure that English football is not decimated should this season be lost and next season blighted.”
Clarke added: “Time is pressing as football burns through its cash reserves with no sign yet of a resumption of the game.”
With Premier League clubs and players trying to help out their local communities wherever they can, the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) are currently locked in talks with players, leagues and other stakeholders as to how players can take pay cuts to help the effort in the UK.
The situation is very clear. Aside from the super clubs in the Premier League, the vast majority of professional clubs in England will be pushed to its limits to survive financially amid the coronavirus pandemic. Reports suggest that many clubs have less than three months worth of cash in reserve to keep them going and tough decisions will need to be made to cut costs in the coming weeks.