Premier League clubs have been urged to follow the leads of Liverpool and Brighton to “avoid a disaster waiting to happen” by fighting the threat of the coronavirus crisis to food banks and ensuring casual staff are paid during football’s suspension.
The move, by the organisation Fans Supporting Foodbanks, comes the Premier League and its clubs prepare for Thursday’s emergency meeting called to discuss the postponement of matches, which is all but certain to stretch beyond the initial 3 April date because the disease continues to spread.
This means collections by FSF before home games are no longer possible, raising concern that food banks will struggle to feed the sizeable constituency dependent on them. There is also doubt regarding the livelihoods of thousands of casual workers in the game.
In an open letter to clubs FSF made the following requests: “To follow the example of Liverpool and provide immediate, direct emergency funding for food-banks in their region. To follow the example of Brighton and commit to paying all match day and other casual staff through all cancelled fixtures.” It also called for clubs to immediately suspend all remaining season card charges until such a time as league and/or cups fixtures restart.
The statement added: “The long-term ramifications of Covid-19 on football are still unknown, but the effects of the virus on wider society are beginning to unfold with food-banks already bearing the brunt of what promises to be massive disruption to our communities. Add in the many people on ‘casual’ or zero-hours contracts which have been terminated due to the crisis and it is likely that a whole new wave of people will need the food-banks imminently in the absence of government action. Given that approximately 40% of food parcels currently go to feed children, this is a disaster waiting to happen.”
FSF has a “Hunger Doesn’t Wear Club Colours” maxim and was launched in 2015 jointly between Liverpool and Everton supporters. It raised £50,000 towards food banks in Liverpool 48 hours after setting up a donation site on Saturday, the European champions contributing £40K of the sum. There are other club supporters’ initiatives under the FSF umbrella at Manchester City and Manchester United, Burnley, Newcastle, West Ham, Leeds, and Huddersfield, with more expected to join.
Speaking to the Guardian an FSF spokesperson said: “This week we’re launching a fans fund with the MUFC fans food bank to try and get funds in for the 18 food banks across Greater Manchester.”