‘National League need £15m from the Premier League to survive’ insists former England defender

Former England defender Gary Neville believes the Premier League should borrow against future television earnings to safeguard English football's financial survival amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday, 24th April 2020, 1:49 pm
Updated Friday, 24th April 2020, 1:51 pm
Salford City co-owner Gary Neville. Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images.

The Salford City FC co-owner believes the league and its 20 member clubs must act, and hopes the appointment of new chairman Gary Hoffman will be a positive development.

Former Coventry chairman Hoffman's appointment was ratified unanimously by the clubs yesterday, and he will succeed interim chair Claudia Arney on June 1.

Neville said: ‘He (Hoffman) will understand the predicament of lower league clubs.

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‘I said four weeks ago before this started the kind of huge opportunity here to do the right thing and prop the game up.

‘I mentioned that they should go and borrow a billion pounds - it was a number, to be fair, I just said flippantly at that time against the future income sources.

‘The future revenues are into the tens of billions in the Premier League and more if they wanted to extend their TV contracts.

‘The idea of basically borrowing at this time 300 or 400 million, 500 million pounds, which is more than an affordable number, doing a soft deal with a bank on a loan to give the FA, the EFL, the players, whoever it is - the National League need 15 million.

‘I've gone from opportunity to despair to almost now pleading with somebody at the Premier League just to do the right thing for the game.’

The National League’s 68 clubs have received their share of the £125m ‘solidary payment’ advanced by the Premier League to the EFL and the NL.

But only a small chunk has reached NL South clubs such as Hawks, and it is only money they were due to receive in September - no extra cash has yet been forthcoming.

While the 24 NL top flight clubs have banked £58,333 each, the 44 South and North clubs have received £13,636 each - a total of around £2m, which is just 1.6 per cent of the Premier League’s £125m payment.

That is nowhere near Neville’s assessment of the NL needing £15m.

Last month, shortly after football was halted due to Covid-19, Dagenham & Redbridge managing director Steve Thompson said the NL clubs needed up to £20m between them to survive.

If the PL did actually give the NL £20m, and it was distributed on the same basis as it has been so far, Hawks would end up with £136,000.

Hawks director Trevor Brock told The News earlier this week that the Premier League needed to do more to bail out financially-stricken non-league clubs.

‘The Premier League should be helping more,’ he said.

‘Bearing in mind the billions of pounds in the Premier League, only a sliver of it is passed down. Paul Pogba’s monthly salary would solve all the problems in non-league football.’

At least Hawks get some money from the Premier League. Below them, starting with the likes of Gosport Borough in the top flight of the Southern League and playing in the seventh tier of English football, no club receives a penny.

The Premier League's chief executive Richard Masters said earlier this month that the competition stood to lose at least £1billion if the 2019-20 season cannot be completed, with the bulk of that loss made up of money having to be repaid to broadcasters.

It has been reported that Sky is prepared to waive the rebate either in exchange for a one-season extension of its current deal or the right to show more matches in the next two seasons, but that would still leave teams having to find almost £400million between them at a time of huge uncertainty.

Neville added: ‘They can take a portion of money up front from a loan somewhere and they can just do the right thing to settle the game down - reassure the game that it's looking after them.

‘There are 20 league clubs. They have to do it. The Premier League and the clubs are the only people who can stop this becoming absolute carnage economically and saves the fans at lower levels.’