Some of the uncertainty might have now disappeared for EFL clubs up and down the country with the decision to finally make a definitive call on the future of this season – with those in the Championship preparing for the restarting of fixtures behind closed doors while teams from League One and League Two have seen their upcoming schedules cleared and they can now plan ahead for next season. Clubs are now aware exactly where they stand and can forecast accordingly based on a lack of fixtures, gate receipts and associated match day revenue streams.
Yet, even with this ability to forward plan now possible for clubs, the loss of these key revenue sources for some of the league’s financially smaller clubs will mean they continue to find themselves in a very precarious position. There is now a confirmed period over the next few months where they will still have their outstanding bills – covering everything from rents and bills to staff and player wages – without the same steady income through the door. For some of these clubs, it’s a nightmare situation which, while completely understandable given the circumstances, puts them in a tough patch of uncertainty likely for some time.
Some may be forced to turn to loan payments, racking up potential club debts during this extended off-season period, while others may be left in a such a lurch that the warning from EFL chairman Rick Parry that we could yet see clubs go bust come true.
That situation remains the absolute worst case scenario and most hopefully the EFL, having cleared identified the potential risks to these clubs that coronavirus has caused, would also have prepared some sort of support and relief fund to step in and protect these community assets during their difficult months. Even despite their history of inaction at times in the past to clubs in financial difficulties, the EFL may be encouraged to step in on this occasion given the nature of events which have led to these clubs struggling: this wasn’t financial mismanagement of these clubs which has seen them heading towards hard times, but rather extenuating circumstances outside of anyone’s control which has hit even the biggest clubs hard. For the next few months, everyone needs to be in this together.