EFL Chairman has firm message for clubs on fixtures and finances as contingency planning continues

The Chairman of the EFL has warned clubs that the outbreak of COVID-19 could affect the leagues for at least 18 months.

Monday, 23rd March 2020, 3:02 pm

Rick Parry told BBC Five Live that there is a unanimous will throughout the divisions to finish the current season on the pitch, but says there is a need to be ‘flexible’.

The EFL is continuing its contingency planning after extending its initial postponement of fixtures late last week.

“We are committed to finish the season on the pitch,” he said.

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The EFL chair has a warning

“We want promotion and relegation.

“We don't want an artificial end to the season.

“When that will be, how that will be, no one knows at the moment.

“There are greater priorities in looking after the nation's health which we must never, ever forget.”

Parry confirmed that the possibility of playing behind closed doors remained, but admits there is no clear solution at the moment as the health crisis in the UK continues to escalate at pace.

“People realise there is no rulebook for this, no manual,” he said.

“We're going to have to be incredibly flexible in terms of how the season pans out.

“We don't know whether it's going to be behind closed doors, we don't know when it's going to be recommence.

“We also don't know when next season is going to start.

“The idea that this is going to be neatly over in June and next season starts in August, is wishful thinking.

“I think there's going to be a knock-on effect for 18 months.

“So we'll need a lot of flexibility, outside-the-box thinking, and more than ever, cool heads.”

As well as resolving to finish the campaign, last week’s crucial board meeting saw the EFL agree to immediately advance basic award payments due to clybs for the rest of this season.

Clubs will also be able to loan a limited amount interest free from the EFL, and Parry said government measures to potentially defer key tax payments were ‘very welcome’.

However, he warned that the EFL will not be able to offer much assistance beyond that and said ‘long-term solutions’ are a must.

“That'd be a stretch [loaning further],” he said.

“The money we advanced was on the basis that it ought to be enough to get through the next three wages of matchday revenue, which is the first loss.

“What it doesn't do is come anywhere remotely close to covering the wage bill for the period, but we don't have a money tree and nor does anybody else.

“There's no simple answer, but what we've got to be very careful of is kicking the can down the road.

“The more we defer, the more we lend, the more we're going to have a problem in three or four months.

“We need to find long-term solutions as far as we can.”

Parry also played down the likelihood of asking Premier League clubs for financial assistance.

“I'm not a fan of the begging-bowl culture,” he said.

“I think it's much better to be in dialogue with the Premier League about sustainable futures and how we might have a reset going forward.”