'The Premier League won't be Football League saviours, they need help' - What the future holds for Portsmouth, Sunderland, Oxford, Ipswich and Co

The Premier League and government must join forces to save lower division clubs from oblivion.

Tuesday, 29th September 2020, 1:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th September 2020, 5:41 pm
Former Pompey Supporters' Trust chairman Ashley Brown fears for clubs unless a financial package can be provided

That’s the message from Ashley Brown, who is adamant a united effort is essential to provide the financial package required to keep clubs alive.

And unless assistance can be found, he fears clubs will struggle to survive ‘beyond the next few months’.

A former Pompey board member and ex-Pompey Supporters’ Trust chairman, Brown these days serves as the Football Supporters’ Association’s head of governance.

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Through his influence, he has been working closely with football clubs and MPs in pursuing a resolution to save Football League and National League members crippled by the coronavirus crisis.

And rather than pinpointing the Premier League for help, he believes the government must also contribute.

He told The News: ‘If things don’t change soon then we’re going to see more problems with Football League and National League clubs either going into administration or trying to find a way to go into hibernation until things change.

‘Without some sort of financial aid package it is definitely not going to be possible for all football clubs at that level to survive beyond the next few months.

Clubs haven't welcomed in fans since mid-March - and for some the income absence threatens their existence. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘There have been calls for the Premier League to help – and people clearly think the Premier League clubs are incredibly rich because we see the sums of money involved.

‘However, the trouble the Premier League has is it operates the same way as football does – basically money that comes in, goes back out again.

‘They are not sat there on huge reserves which enables them to help people out.

‘Right now it’s not necessarily straightforward to assume the Premier League can afford to bail everybody out, so we have to look at the government.

‘Perhaps it’s about the government working with the Premier League, but we do need financial support from the government to ensure we don’t lose any more of our historic football clubs.

‘The government has to consider the knock-on effect is huge if you lose a football club at the centre of the community.

‘It has to be a combination. The Premier League must be involved in the discussions, if they are able to help in some ways, but they can’t do it all on their own.

‘The government have to come in and help out as well.’

Damian Collins, the Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe, voiced concerns on Monday that the Football League would collapse without government intervention.

Along with others, he has written to culture secretary Oliver Dowden and minister for sport Nigel Huddleston, pleading for a Covid-19 'cultural recovery fund’ for football.

Brown added: ‘We’ve been working with Damian, who was originally chair of the DCMS select committee, and he put a letter to the secretary of state yesterday calling for intervention from the government.

‘It was countersigned by ourselves, a number of MPs, and various people from the world of football.

‘We have also seen the Football League and National League lobbying for money, so there is plenty of pressure being put on the government. I hope they do respond.

‘But up to now I think they continue to look at the Premier League as the saviours – and I don’t believe that’s going to happen.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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