English Football League chairman Rick Parry says changes are needed in order to guarantee the financial security of clubs in the professional football pyramid.
In an address made to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee earlier this week, regarding the impact of coronavirus, Parry said that clubs could face a ‘£200m hole’ by September.
Admitting it was ‘difficult to answer’ how many clubs might go out of business, the EFL chief ‘completely agreed’ that a rescue package would be needed to help support EFL clubs, while 37 of the 47 teams across the third and fourth tiers signed a letter asking for salary caps to be introduced – another of Parry’s suggestions.
Speaking exclusively to The Independent, Plymouth Argyle chief executive, Andrew Parkinson, and Exeter City chairman, Julian Tagg, both backed the prospect of financial support, whether it comes from the government or the Premier League.
“With gate revenues not forthcoming for the foreseeable future – something which is a major income generator, certainly for League One and League Two clubs – we as a collective need to look at all options that are open,” Parkinson said. “We have got to play other clubs and have got to come up with some sort of package to help. Clearly that has got to be one that sees money well spent and not one that is just keeping things going for just a short while. We have been in discussion with the EFL and that is something we would seriously have to consider.
“We have to look at what support could be there. We have to welcome that but we are only one business.
“There are lots of other businesses who are in the same boat. The important thing is, whatever happens, the football industry has to be able to demonstrate it is a sustainable business going forward and has to cut its cloth accordingly.”
Tagg added: “Some clubs would have been in difficulty before this happened, some would be in difficulty now and some in the not-too distant future, having to run a businesses without income. We would welcome income from any source, I suppose with the proviso that debt is not something we’d want to entertain under any circumstances. However, sometimes needs must.”
The prospect of a salary cap, which would work as a budget cap rather than a limit to individual wages, was something both men tentatively agreed with.
For Argyle chief Parkinson, a football club must look at how costs can be limited but suggested that caution should be exercised over how it is administered. Exeter chairman Tagg, meanwhile, admitted that a financial limit would go some way to readdressing a balance in money spent for League Two.
He explained: “So many clubs are living in a situation beyond their means, that the need for an urgent review is already being thought through by the EFL and discussed by all of its members.
“A club such as ours is always extremely cautious, because of the nature of its ownership, and people only remember too well the difficulties of the not-too distant past. Whilst we are constantly trying to find ways to stay solvent, at the same time fulfilling the ambition to progress, a cap such as that suggested would certainly help a club such as ours, that doesn’t have a huge amount of philanthropic income. Whilst our gates are improving, they’re not as big as others in our league so we could welcome a cap, because it would hopefully mean that the competitive nature of our league would be more realistic.”