Football League clubs face a race to agree a deal on player wages and avert a cash crisis before April’s salaries are due next week.
Talks are continuing between the EFL, clubs and the Professional Footballers’ Association on how best to stem the financial losses brought about by the coronavirus crisis. Time is running out, however, with many clubs, particularly in Leagues One and Two, set to face severe problems without an agreement on player pay.
In the past week some clubs have come to an arrangement. League One’s Sunderland and the League Two side Crewe Alexandra have agreed to furlough their playing staff under the government’s job retention scheme, and the Championship side Millwall are expected to follow suit.
The PFA is believed to be supportive of other clubs doing the same, provided wages are topped up to their full extent by clubs. For many Championship clubs, where the wage bill can exceed annual revenue, this would not be a practical solution.
On 18 March the EFL announced it would advance £50m in TV revenue to help struggling clubs cover that month’s payroll. Since then the Premier League announced it too would advance monies, a total of £125m in solidarity and “parachute” payments that would otherwise have been paid next season.
In a letter to clubs this week, however, the EFL chairman, Rick Parry, said he would not be transferring that money to clubs now “while additional clarity is sought on other financial matters, particularly in respect to player wages”.
Elsewhere in his letter Parry laid out plans to finish the Football League season in a sharp burst, playing 341 fixtures over 56 days from June. On Friday this idea was criticised by the head of the League Managers Association, Richard Bevan, who said coaches had not been consulted.
“You’re going to have to get the support of the coaches and managers,” Bevan told the BBC. “You do not do that by not talking to them. You do not get the end product or working together if you just send a letter out without actually taking their advice or thoughts.”