MPs say they want to hear about “every meeting, every call and every email” between the Premier League and the EFL over the coronavirus rescue package, stating they are “losing patience” with the leagues over the time being taken to reach an agreement.
The Government announced a package of funding on Thursday to support sports affected by the loss of matchday revenue over the winter, but the men’s professional game did not feature.
Sports minister Nigel Huddleston insists it is the Premier League’s responsibility to help out the EFL, and Conservative MP Julian Knight, who chairs the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, has called the failure of the leagues to reach an agreement so far “a fiasco”.
He warned at the end of last week’s DCMS session that the committee would demand updates from the leagues on the progress they were making, and reiterated that call on Friday.
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“We are losing patience,” said Knight. “Fans have waited a long time for a solution that would safeguard their clubs but all they can see is squabbling at the top of the game.
“Football and its followers deserve better. The current fiasco in reaching an agreement isn’t about the lack of money, but lack of leadership.”
Knight continued: “We’re putting the current leaders of the Premier League and the EFL on notice.
“We want to be kept in the loop about every discussion, every meeting, every call, every email, to save clubs at risk.
“Nothing should be withheld from the committee, and so that fans can see what’s going on, we’ll make these updates public.
“The predecessor DCMS committee called for legislation to bring in an independent system of football licensing and regulation if the game wasn’t able to reform itself. That time may be fast approaching.”
The EFL talked about a “significant step forward” last week in announcing that it was now finalising negotiations over a £50m offer from the Premier League to clubs in Leagues One and Two, generally those hit hardest by the loss of spectator revenue.
That was because the EFL now felt confident that it had assurances from the top flight that support would be offered to Championship clubs as well.
However, it has been reported that the EFL has concerns over the fact that £30m of the £50m rescue offer is comprised of loans, which would load more debt onto clubs in the third and fourth tiers.
Huddleston said on Thursday that EFL chairman Rick Parry and Premier League chief executive Richard Masters had to find a compromise.
“We are doing everything we can to encourage Rick and Richard to come to a reasonable arrangement,” he said.
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“I appeal to Richard and Rick to both compromise and come to reasonable terms.
“Clearly what is currently presented hasn’t been acceptable so something else needs to come (forward) but it is for them to determine the precise dynamics.
“I think they are both going to have to compromise and I expect them to do so.”
Holloway urges Government to step in
Grimsby manager Ian Holloway launched an impassioned plea for the Government to step in and warned clubs in League One and League Two are in a perilous position.
Holloway admits he will have to trim his squad immediately as the club cannot afford to wait until January.
“They’re (Premier League clubs) not going to give you the money, they’re going to want something for it, and it’s not right,” said Holloway.
“A government minister should just go straight in and make sure the football pyramid survives.
“Someone should take the money off them and distribute it fairly and equally.”
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