Lunchtime kick-off times for league and FA Cup games at the weekend would be considered by clubs in the EFL and the broader football pyramid to help deal with the cost of living crisis, according to a new survey.
63 per cent of 40 clubs – including 12 EFL teams – polled by football reform group Fair Game over the past two weeks said they would consider earlier kick-offs to reduce energy costs as daylight hours dwindle , if they had permission to do so .
The Government has pledged to support businesses facing rising energy costs, but it is unclear if this will benefit football clubs or how long the support will last, and concerns over the cost of living crisis at clubs outside the Premier League remain high.
Overall, clubs rated their concern over the cost of living crisis at seven out of ten, rising to more than eight out of ten for teams in the second division.
60 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 review budgets for non-playing staff.
The release of the survey comes as Premier League clubs prepare to hold further discussions on a new financial distribution model to support the EFL and the rest of the pyramid.
The so-called “New Deal For Football” is not expected to be signed by the 20 clubs when they gather for a shareholders’ meeting in London on Wednesday. The plan is said to include a new system of performance-based payments to championship clubs and changes to parachute payments.
Changes to the national calendar from 2024 are also part of the ‘New Deal’ discussions and Premier League clubs are broadly in agreement on the idea of repeating the FA Cup third and fourth rounds, which have historically been one , dropping key revenue stream for lower division clubs.
Europe’s revamped club competitions will add even more space to an already crowded calendar from the 2024/25 season, as 64 additional games are added to the Champions League and continental games roll into January for the first time.
Top-flight teams are understood to be less focused on the future of the Carabao Cup.
It is understood that the league’s ‘Big Six’ clubs will unanimously support the idea that teams playing in Europe can either enter an under-21 side for the Carabao Cup or not participate at all.
Other Premier League clubs also back the proposal, but some less regularly active in Europe fear such a move would devalue the League Cup too much. In turn, reducing the attractiveness of the competition would affect the EFL’s revenues.
It is understood there is increasing optimism among top clubs that plans for an independent football regulator, led by new Prime Minister Liz Truss, could be delayed, watered down or dropped altogether.
Her predecessor Boris Johnson and former Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries were both supporters of the regulator but are now out of office, while Sport Secretary Nigel Huddleston’s future remains uncertain. He gave his public support to Truss’ rival Rishi Sunak in the Tory leadership campaign.
Huddleston had warned the regulator would be given backstop powers to impose a financial distribution scheme on the Premier League and EFL if they couldn’t agree on it themselves.
A white paper on the regulator was originally due in the summer but was initially delayed by leadership competition while government business was suspended during the national mourning period following the Queen’s death.
However, the future of this and other legislation is uncertain.
Fair Game CEO Niall Couper said the poll results are further evidence why urgent action is needed.
“The results paint a very bleak future for football outside the top tier of the game,” he said.
“Once the pandemic is over, the cost of living crisis could well be the death knell for hard-working community clubs further down the pyramid.
“League football clubs are the heartbeat of their communities but at the moment they are in intensive care.
“The Premier League offers a band-aid at best. They had decades to address the issue and they should step aside.
“Now it is up to the government to intervene. The recent fan-led review launched by the Conservative Party found that the financial flow within the game and the governance behind it are broken.
“Fair Game is now a call to action. We were promised leveling, instead we got to see football stadiums across the country leveled off the map with decades of history and tradition.
“The government must now deliver on its promise of an independent regulator. A regulator that can oversee the financial flow of football. Without them, the pyramid of our national game will collapse.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league-government-efl-richard-masters-nadine-dorries-b2171670.html Lunchtime kick-offs in leagues and the FA Cup are attractive given the cost of living crisis