There is real concern around the English Football League that plenty of clubs in the lower leagues may not exist in a few weeks time due to the coronavirus pandemic.
If some Premier League clubs are feeling the pinch when it comes to finances, imagine what smaller teams in England are going through right now?
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Premier League teams have already agreed to release $155 million to help the 72 teams below them spread across the Championship, League One and League Two.
What else can they do?
I have a cunning plan. It should work, as long as we are in a position in a few weeks/months time to play games behind closed doors. PL clubs and other football institutions are doing all the can to help and raise money for the NHS and safeguard their employers. But this is purely about football helping football in a situation when they’ve returned to full training.
Premier League clubs will have to embark on a preseason to get themselves back up to speed ahead of the final nine games of the 2019-20 season. What do you need at the end of preseason? Friendly games.
Here is my proposal:
- Premier League or Championship clubs will play at least one friendly game against a team from the third or fourth tier and the club must be located close by to cut down on travelling. Say, within a 1-hour drive maximum. It would help create an even stronger bond between the local clubs and their fans, even if they are rivals. We all know we need to stick together more than ever right now.
- All games will be made available to stream online to fans for a fee or broadcasters could pick them up. All funds collected from these games would be distributed evenly to the Football League teams on a league-by-league basis. Think of it as the same FA Cup windfall a lower league team gets when they are drawn against a PL club.
- Not only is it better for PL players to get back up to speed by playing a game against real opponents rather than a training match, this would also be an opportunity for teams and broadcasters to test out how you would televise a game in an empty stadium or training ground, if that is to be what happens when the season resumes.
Remember, the key rule is: each Premier League/Championship team will play at least one friendly against a team from the third or fourth tier.
Here’s a look at some of the matchups we could have, plenty of which are local derbies and would certainly get fans excited.
- Newcastle v. Sunderland
- Southampton v. Portsmouth
- Norwich v. Ipswich
- Man United v. Salford City
- Man City v. Oldham
- Liverpool v. Tranmere Rovers
- Chelsea v. AFC Wimbledon
- West Ham v. Leyton Orient
- Tottenham v. Stevenage
- Aston Villa v. Walsall
- Wolves v. Burton Albion
- Leicester City v. Peterborough
- Burnley v. Bolton
- Watford v. MK Dons
- Crystal Palace v. Gillingham
- Sheffield United v. Rotherham United
- Brighton v. Crawley Town
- Bournemouth v. Yeovil Town
- Everton v. Blackpool
- Arsenal v. Wycombe
- Leeds United v. Bradford
- Bristol City v. Bristol Rovers
- Nottingham Forest v. Mansfield Town
- Preston v. Carlisle
- Hull City v. Grimsby Town
- Stoke City v. Crewe
- Cardiff City v. Newport County