FA chairman says football clubs could disappear as a result of the coronavirus pandemic

FA chairman Greg Clarke has said football faces a real threat from the coronavirus pandemic. Picture

FA chairman Greg Clarke has said football faces a real threat from the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: TIM GOODE/PA - Credit: PA

A statement from the chairman of FA has said they are still persisting with the conclusion of the professional game but admitted clubs could disappear as the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic bite hard.

Greg Clarke said the football authority was itself facing “severe financial consequences” and had already brought in measures to stabilise their finances, which included the furloughing of staff.

And he insisted that all interested parties in the sport needed to come together and work as one.

He said: “We live in uncertain times and our priority is to support the Government’s public health initiatives. The wellbeing of all of us, and especially our most vulnerable members, must be our focus and the Government’s instructions regarding social distancing are our route to safety.

“However, football needs to pay attention to the economic effects of the pandemic as well as rigorously following public health guidance.

“We face the danger of losing clubs and leagues as finances collapse. Many communities could lose the clubs at their heart with little chance of resurrection.

“In the face of this unprecedented adversity, all the stakeholders within the game from players, fans, clubs, owners and administrators need to step up and share the pain to keep the game alive.

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“Time is pressing as football burns through its cash reserves with no sign yet of a resumption of the game. Pointing fingers serves no purpose.

“It is time for the stakeholders to agree common cause to save our game. Contribute. Football is a team game and now is the time for teamwork.”

His stated desire to finish the professional season amid the potential folding of clubs will not sit well with some though.

The FA came under fire with their decision to void the non-league season with 151 clubs, including Colney Heath, Stotfold and Codicote, instructing lawyers to write to the governing body with their grievances, one of which said “the cost of terminating it now outweighs that of continuing”.

Clarke made no mention of this letter though in his statement.

He said: “We are committed to finishing the professional football season as this resolves the issues of promotion and relegation together with title winners on merit. However, we may not be able to finish the season as football is not our priority, human life is, and we will do as the Government directs as the pandemic unfolds.

“Further down the football pyramid, our Leagues have requested that the season is curtailed and that decision rests with the FA council.

“Football, like many other sectors of the economy has been hit hard by effectively closing down its business. From grassroots through the semi-professional pyramid to the professional game: clubs have closed, games are cancelled, terraces are empty and cash flow has stalled.

“We must have a plan to ensure that English football is not decimated should this season be lost and next season blighted. We hope we do not need this plan as we are all determined to finish the professional football season, however we would be fools not to develop such a contingency plan.

“Those that lost their clubs because English football did not rise to the challenge would rightly judge us harshly.”