Portsmouth CEO Mark Catlin's details how crisis can dramatically change shape of football for better

Mark Catlin believes the coronavirus has given English football the financial wake-up call it desperately needs.

Friday, 1st May 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Friday, 1st May 2020, 6:15 pm

And the Pompey chief executive has outlined his plans for true sustainability within the game on these shores in the years to come.

Catlin feels football has to make some drastic changes to limit the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on clubs and offer some kind of stability moving forward.

He explained discussions had started over profit and sustainability in the EFL before the virus crisis gripped the world.

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He said: ‘As part of ongoing discussions, we have these issues.

‘Once we get off the life-support machine are we just going to go on another one again?

‘There is a concerted effort behind the scenes to sort out the true profit and sustainability.

Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin

‘Clubs pre Covid-19 started a process of looking at salary levels and profit and sustainability of each relevant league.

‘I think it’s fair to say with the onset of this virus it’s very much brought that into focus.

‘It’s something that needs to be addressed at all levels and in all countries.

‘It’s something we’ve been arguing for across many, many years.

‘We knew how damaging the reliance can be on an owner during two periods of administration.

‘Portsmouth are scarred by that. We brought in a culture the Trust and supporters’ groups believed was the right way to run a football club.

‘We have to stick to that since coming out of administration and have been urging clubs to do the same.

‘It seems finally that the penny has dropped and there should be a wake-up call for clubs as we look to sort clubs out financially, so they are not hanging on over a weekly or monthly basis.’

As the debate intensifies over sustainability for English clubs moving forward,calls have also grown for the introduction of a salary cap, with a £3,500-per-week ceiling mooted for League One.

Catlin isn’t in agreement with that prospect but feels clubs should operate with playing budgets which chime with their income and costs.

He added: ‘I don't think you can concentrate on individual salary figures or caps.

‘There has to be a bigger view which accounts for the size of the club and not how rich your owner is.

‘Every club is different in terms of income, cost bases and commercial revenue streams.

‘I think you have to allow clubs to be individual in terms of what they can spend because every club is different. It wouldn’t be logical otherwise.

‘A club with a 2,000 gate doesn’t generate the same income as a club with an 18,000 gate, or 40,000 gate in the case of Sunderland.

‘You have to allow clubs to find their natural level based on their operating P&L.

‘Every club, give or take, usually knows what their income will be for the coming year, you can work that out. Historically and traditionally it doesn’t vary that much.

‘You can give yourself a bit of tolerance but you know what your cost base is going to be.

‘The difference between your cost base and your income - that’s your playing budget. That’s what you should be allowed to spend.’