Government paying ‘scant regard’ to football’s coronavirus crisis – Rochdale CEO

·3-min read

The Government is paying “scant regard” to football’s coronavirus funding crisis, according to Rochdale chief executive David Bottomley.

Rochdale boss Bottomley criticised the lack of aid for the sport as he charted the wider community toll of English Football League clubs going out of business.

EFL chairman Rick Parry has written to the Government this week, accusing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration of ignoring football clubs amid the pandemic.

Rick Parry has written to the Government
Rick Parry has written to the Government (House of Commons/PA)

And League One Rochdale’s Bottomley believes Parry has the full support of the EFL member clubs.

“We’re 100 per cent full-square behind Rick Parry in this,” Bottomley told Sky Sports News.

“Every club recognises that the Government are not taking seriously the crisis that we have in the football industry. They are paying it scant regard.

“There’s a chip shop at the back of our ground that would have had a minimum of 3,000 Sunderland fans queuing up to buy fish and chips, and they’ve not had that.

Norwich City v Wycombe Wanderers – Sky Bet Championship – Carrow Road
Norwich City fans watch the Canaries from inside Carrow Road, but not from the stands (Nigel French/PA)

“And if you look at football clubs, it’s not only the people they employ in a community, it’s the money that goes along with that in a community.

“The hundreds of thousands of travelling fans that visit other clubs throughout the year that spend money in pubs, clubs, shops, restaurants, in the towns they visit, the hotel trade, all of those things.

“So when a town loses its football club, it loses lots of things. It loses identity, it loses community.

“But it has a massive knock-on effect for the businesses that are in that town.”

EFL boss Parry has written to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to detail the major cash crisis faced due to the effects of Covid-19 and matches being played behind closed doors since March.

The Government insists no fans will return to stadiums this year, with pilot events halted due to a second wave of coronavirus cases.

The EFL has negotiated with the Premier League over a bailout, but no deal has yet been struck.

Leyton Orient captain Jobi McAnuff has also backed Parry’s stance, revealing the toll on players caused by the continued absence of fans.

Cardiff City v Fulham – Sky Bet Championship – Play-Off – First Leg – Cardiff City Stadium
Leyton Orient captain Jobi McAnuff, pictured, has explained the impact of fans’ continued absence from football grounds (Nick Potts/PA)

“Of course all this can have a direct impact on the playing squad,” McAnuff told Sky Sports.

“Of course it has an impact, it affects when we travel to and from games, and many other things. It affects the atmosphere.

“We’re desperate to get fans back in, safely of course.

“But if that’s not going to happen we’re going to need some funding from somewhere.”

Parry warned the Government fans “will never forgive” them if their clubs go out of business, and former Ipswich and Wolves boss Mick McCarthy backed that stance.

McCarthy believes clubs going out of business would devastate local communities, heaping yet more misery on areas already ravaged by the impact of the pandemic.

Asked about Parry’s letter, McCarthy told Sky Sports: “His letter makes sense to me to be quite honest.

Republic of Ireland v Denmark – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group D – Aviva Stadium
Mick McCarthy, right, has backed EFL chairman Rick Parry’s approach in criticising the Government’s coronavirus response in football (Niall Carson/PA)

“Football certainly needs it (a financial rescue package).

“The devastating effect this has all had, it’s hit the likes of Bury, that area, how it affects people.

“If clubs do go to the wall it will have a real negative effect.”

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