The mayor of London has written to every Premier League and Championship club in the capital asking they provide assistance to the NHS in “unprecedented times” amid the fight against coronavirus.
In a letter sent this week, Sadiq Khan asked clubs to provide help in three key areas – access to medical staff, access to stadium facilities and accommodation for NHS workers living away from their families as well as for health and care workers who need easy access to field hospitals.
Acknowledging this was a “big ask” for clubs who have effectively shuttered their businesses, the mayor called on football to unite and “protect the lives” of Londoners.
The letter was sent to 10 clubs in the top two tiers of English football: Arsenal, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, West Ham, Fulham, Charlton Athletic, QPR, Brentford and Millwall. An 11th, Tottenham, had already begun transferring medical staff to work alongside NHS staff. Watford did not receive the request as they fall outside the Greater London region.
The mayor wrote: “I do not take such requests lightly and I appreciate this is a big ask in what is a challenging and uncertain time for many of London’s football clubs. However, I am clear that we all need to unite and do what we can to support the NHS and protect the lives of Londoners.”
There is understood to be no target put against the number of medical volunteers, with the letter asking for support from “team doctors, physios, paramedics and other clinically trained staff” who could be retrained to work either on the front line or in support roles. Premier League clubs often have one doctor per team at their disposal, including junior age groups.
In a statement the mayor said: “As we work together to tackle the threat of coronavirus, the community spirit of London’s football clubs has shone through. Many have already offered support and are assisting the response in their local communities. This week, I have written to the capital’s Premier League and Championship clubs outlining what they can do to help our fantastic NHS and I’m grateful for the hugely positive response we have received.”
London clubs have already taken steps to help. Alongside the actions taken by Tottenham, Chelsea have opened their Millennium Hotel to NHS workers, while Arsenal announced a nine-point support plan, including using club cars to transport NHS staff. Palace have made Selhurst Park available and are speaking to their local NHS Trust to see how they can support efforts.