Clubs in the English Football League will be considered at the start of lunchtime for League and FA Cup matches [EFL] And English football’s broader pyramid to tackle the cost of living crisis, a new study finds.
63 per cent of 40 clubs – including 12 teams from the Premier League – surveyed by football reform group Fair Game in the past two weeks said they would consider starting an early start to help reduce energy bills as daylight hours shrink, if Permission was granted.
The UK government has pledged to support businesses with rising energy costs, but it is unclear whether this will benefit football clubs or how long any support will last, and concern about the cost of living crisis among clubs outside the Premier League remains high.
Overall, clubs ranked their concerns about the cost of living crisis at seven out of 10, rising to more than eight out of 10 among League Two teams.
Sixty per cent of the 40 clubs are considering halting ground improvement work as a result of the crisis, while 38 per cent are preparing to consider budgets for non-participating staff.
The publication of the survey comes as Premier League clubs prepare for further discussions on a new financial distribution model to support the Premier League and the rest of the pyramid.
The so-called ‘Football New Deal’ is not expected to be signed by the 20 clubs when they gather at a shareholder meeting in London on Wednesday. It is understood that the plan includes a new system of merit-based payments for championship clubs and changes to parachute payments.
Changes to the domestic calendar from 2024 are part of the ‘New Deal’ discussions, and Premier League clubs are understood to be largely in agreement on the idea of wanting to do away with the FA Cup third and fourth round reruns, which have historically been Serves as an important source of income for lower league clubs.
Europe’s new-look club competitions will occupy more space in the already crowded calendar than the 2024-25 season, with an additional 64 matches added to the Champions League and continental matches set to extend into January for the first time.
It is understood that the top-flight teams are less consistent about the future of the Carabao Cup.
Understandably, the Big Six clubs are unanimously in favor of allowing teams playing in Europe to either enter an under-21 team in the Carabao Cup or not enter it at all.
Other clubs in the Premier League also support the proposal, but there is concern among some who participate less regularly in Europe that such a move would significantly reduce the value of the League Cup. Reducing the attractiveness of the competition will again have an impact on EFL revenues.
Understandably, there is growing optimism among top-flight clubs that plans for an independent football regulator could be delayed, watered down or dropped altogether under new British Prime Minister Liz Truss.
Her predecessor Boris Johnson and former Culture Secretary Nadine Doris were supporters of the regulator but are now out of office, while Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston’s future remains uncertain. He gave his public support to Truss rival Rishi Sunak in the Conservative Party leadership campaign.
Huddleston had warned that the regulator would be given backstop powers to force the financial distribution settlement to the Premier League and the Premier League if they could not agree on it themselves.
The White Paper on the regulator was initially scheduled for the summer, but was first postponed due to a leadership contest while government work was suspended during a period of national mourning following the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
However, the future of this and other legislation is now up in the air.
Fair Game CEO Niall Cooper said the survey results were further evidence of why action was urgently needed.
“The results paint a very bleak future for football outside the top levels of the game,” he said.
“Having survived the pandemic, the cost of living crisis could be a death knell for the hard-working community clubs at the bottom of the pyramid.
“The lower league clubs are the beating heart of their societies, but they are now in intensive care.
“The Premier League will at best offer a sticky piece. They have had decades to tackle the problem and they should stand aside.
“It is now up to the government to step in. A recent fan-led review set up by the Conservative Party revealed the in-game financial flow, and the governance behind it, has been broken.
“The fair game calls for action now. We have promised to level their playing field, and instead we can see football stadiums all over the country leveled with decades of history and tradition erased from the map.
“The government has to deliver on its promise of an independent regulator now. A regulator that can oversee the financial flow of football. Without that, the pyramid of our national game will collapse.”
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