MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Football League (EFL) clubs are facing a “cash hole” of £200 million by September, chairman Rick Parry told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.
Parry, the former chief executive of Liverpool, was being questioned by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and said all involved in the game, including players and owners, needed to “share the pain”.
The EFL, which includes the second tier Championship, has not played since early March
“We are heading for a financial hole of about 200 million, a cash hole we need to fill, clubs will need to fill...the cash hole towards autumn looks pretty grim,” said Parry.
Parry said it was “difficult to answer” how many clubs may go out of business if the game remained off the field for a longer period.
“Our objective, obviously, is to lose none,” he said, adding that: “We would like to emerge stronger, leaner and more efficient, with a proper reset post-Covid.”
On average Championship clubs spend more on wages than they earn in revenue, while spending on players and transfers across the three divisions has left clubs struggling for viability.
“We need a rescue package. We also need to address the longer term or we will back into problems in two or three years, they need to go hand in hand,” he said, referring to “root and branch” changes.
The EFL chief said he hoped players would be willing to take pay cuts despite previous resistance.
“What was clear at the start of the process (was that) the players were not aware of the depth of the problem,” he said, adding that an “open book” policy from the league would help the players see the need for cuts or deferrals.
Parry said the aim of the league remained to resume play when it was safe to do so, but he said the motivation was to ensure the “integrity” of the competition rather than generate revenue.
EFL clubs rely much more than Premier League teams on matchday revenue and ticket income, and Parry said playing games behind closed doors could actually be a loss-making venture for some clubs.
But regarding suggestions that there may be no relegations from the Premier League at the end of a restarted season, he said the EFL expected the current practices to continue.
“Our expectation is there would be three clubs promoted from the Championship,” he said.
Asked what would happen if the Premier League’s position changed, Parry said: “The lawyers are going to get wealthy if that happens. There would be a degree of outrage from a number of clubs in our Championship, and it would be a breach of the tripartite agreement.
“The safe answer is that it would get very messy.”
Discussions about financial support from the Premier League had been “limited” but Parry said he hoped for some progress once the top flight has clarity over their own season.
He also took aim at the Premier League’s policy of giving significant financial aid to clubs relegated to the second tier, known as “parachute payments”.
“We need a reset. Parachute payments are an evil that needs to be eradicated,” he said.
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Hugh Lawson