COMMENT: Football clubs must be compensated for loss of ticket income

Pompey's chief executive Mark Catlin is not being melodramatic when he warns that the football pyramid in this country is 'in danger of collapse'.

In the end, it's down to simple economics. Clubs such as Pompey rely heavily on gate receipts. If they continue to be unable to have crowds at matches, then their major means of income is cut off.

As the ban on fans in grounds continues, so the position of many clubs becomes increasingly untenable. They can only survive as viable businesses for so long.

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While the Premier League big boys have wealthy backers and Sky cash to help them weather the storm, lower down the leagues it's a very different story.

We report today how the English Football League (EFL), which includes Pompey, has lost £50m of gate income in the 2019/20 season. Clubs could miss out on a further £200m if crowds don't return at some point during the 2020/21 campaign.

Things are already so bad that some EFL and National League clubs are having to consider no longer playing and putting their businesses into administration.

The problem is the perception that football is a well-off sport that can take care of itself. Indeed, culture secretary Oliver Dowden has said as much himself.

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But farther down the pyramid the reality is very different. So we agree with Mr Catlin when he says that the government must urgently help struggling clubs with a coronavirus rescue package.

Other sectors such as heritage have been given financial assistance. Why should football be any different?

We urge Mr Dowden to act now and come up with a scheme that somehow compensates clubs for all the ticket income they are losing each week.

Because if something doesn't happen very soon, then some may be lost forever.

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