Sheffield Wednesday's Garry Monk says a Football League bailout 'needs to happen as quickly as possible'

WOUND UP: Macclesfield Town, relegated from League Two last season, have been early victims of football's coronavirus financial crisisWOUND UP: Macclesfield Town, relegated from League Two last season, have been early victims of football's coronavirus financial crisis
WOUND UP: Macclesfield Town, relegated from League Two last season, have been early victims of football's coronavirus financial crisis
Sheffield Wednesday manager Garry Monk says Football League clubs urgently need to be bailed out to avoid any folding.

All professional football clubs in England are facing continued huge reductions in income after the Government's decision last week not to allow the limited return of supporters because of rising coronavirus infection rates.

The Football League have called for a £250m bailout.

The plan had been for limited numbers of fans to be allowed back into grounds this month for the first time since March, but the Government have back-tracked, and only clubs below the sixth tier (Northern Premier League and above) can do so.

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Westminster has provided rescue packages for culture and the arts but there has been a stand-off around who should support sport, and particularly football.

The Government is putting the onus on the Premier League clubs who, thanks to their hugely lucrative television deal are much less dependent on gates for revenue, with sports minister Nigel Huddleston arguing: “It is perfectly fair and reasonable that those with the broadest shoulders carry the biggest burden.”

Even so, the 20 leading clubs are still collectively losing hundreds of millions of pounds themselves – though it has not stopped them spending over £1bn in the transfer window – and seem reluctant to subsidise lower-division clubs, particularly those they see as badly-run ones. Collectively, the Championship clubs rely on benefactors as they spend more money than they receive on wages, with the Owls one of the worst culprits of recent years.

This week influential figures including two former Football Association chairmen, ten MPs and the chairman of the Football Supporters Association wrote to the Government arguing it was their responsibility to come to clubs' aid because the crisis had come about through their decision not to permit spectators.

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Whoever foots the bill and however they do it, Monk believes the situation is urgent.

“It needs to happen, it's as simple as that, and it needs to happen as quickly as possible,” said Monk, whose club have drastically cut their wage bill this summer. “It's not just for the Premier League to help, they have their own issues as well, but the Government need to support like they've supported other sectors.

“Football is not immune to what's going on.

“The perception of football is it's awash with money - maybe at the very, very top end but even those clubs, like any business, have issues.

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“For the rest it's like any other business in the world. We're not immune to it and it needs help.

“Because of what football is and what it does not only in communities but as a whole across the world, football is such a huge thing in terms of entertainment and what it means within those cities and towns one thing we can't have is teams or businesses, whatever you want to call them, going out of existence without trying to do everything we can for it.

"It's important the authorities – whether that be the Premier League, the EFL, the FA, the PFA, whoever it is, plus the Government – work together and they need to work quickly because I think it (clubs folding) is just around the corner). Before we know it we'll be hearing more and more clubs going out of business if we don't sort this soon so we need to address it ASAP.”

Remarkably, none of the 92 Football League clubs have yet folded but Macclesfield Town, who were relegated at the end of last season, have been wound up over debts of £500,000.

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