Steve Bruce believes Premier League clubs should each give £2m to their lower-division counterparts as English football confronts the potentially catastrophic economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The world has practically collapsed in the past few months and I do feel the Premier League clubs must, I repeat must, try and help support the Football League,” said Newcastle’s manager.
“If you speak to some of the smaller clubs, they’re in a desperate situation. If we’re not careful, we’re not going to have a structure like we have now. From what I’m hearing from managers and chairmen, it’s on the verge of collapse. If we’re not careful I believe we could see the collapse of lots of teams.”
Bruce began his playing career at Gillingham and has managed Wigan – now in administration – and fully appreciates how important the EFL is to the English game’s ecosystem.
“My blueprint for helping them would be to find a couple of million quid and put it to the clubs who badly need it. “A million or two million quid in the Premier League these days seems to be nothing. But in the lower leagues, that would probably keep them all going for a season. Basically I think it needs a donation from Premier League clubs.
“I remember having a conversation with the chairman of Gillingham and him telling me how hard it is now with no income, no revenue from the stadium and no supporters. They’re finding it very, very difficult. I learned my trade in the lower divisions – I was at Gillingham a long, long time and I’ll always be eternally grateful that a small club like that gave me my chance when no one else would. So I’ve always kept in touch with the people at Gillingham and I know just how hard it is.”
Bruce, who is likely to be without Andy Carroll at Manchester City on Wednesday after the centre-forward sustained a groin injury, is desperate to preserve England’s football pyramid. “For me it’s the beauty of the English game. Some of these clubs have been going for hundreds of years; people work tirelessly to keep them going. What happens to those people if we don’t try to do something about this? We have to try.”