"There's a genuine feeling clubs could go under" - National League owners concerned for future after coronavirus halts fixtures

“There’s a genuine feeling clubs could go under.”

Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 10:52 am

National League clubs have been expressing their concerns at the financial strains they face following the suspension of fixtures due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The league has been put on hold until at least April 3 because of the pandemic.

Barnet FC put 60 non-playing staff members on immediate notice of redundancy on Tuesday.

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Lower league clubs face an uncertain time following the suspension of fixtures due to the coronavirus.

The Bees said following relegation attendances are down 50 per cent and general costs have increased resulting in operational losses of approximately £100,000 per month.

Club chairman Tony Kleanthous said: “It is my responsibility to ensure Barnet FC continues to survive and remains financially stable and therefore, I have had to make difficult decisions.”

While Hartlepool chief executive, Mark Maguire, has said “there is a genuine feeling that clubs could go under.”

“Clubs will be lucky or unlucky with their ownership,” he told the Hartlepool Mail. “We are lucky with a chairman who understands and is confident football will restart and has the willingness to see us through it.”

And Dover chairman Jim Parmenter has said he is “very concerned” about the “dire financial position this places our club and football at our level.”

“It is clear there will be some difficult conversations to be had in the next couple of weeks and nobody should be in any doubt of the hardship this will bring to many people,” he said.

“I am in constant contact with the National League and I am hopeful, although not confident, that financial support may be forthcoming from the authorities or the government.”

Meanwhile, ex-Burnley and Sheffield Wednesday manager Brian Laws says Premier League players should donate a month’s wages to help lower league clubs survive during this period of uncertainty.

In 2019 the average annual salary for a Premier League player was £3m.

"Every player in the Premier League is a millionaire,” Laws told BBC Nottingham Sport. “They can afford to live a month having lost the £60,000 or £100,000 that they earn a week."

“Their futures are safe, if they don't kick another football for the rest of their lives they are millionaires and are secure.

"You are talking about 30 to 40 players per club, and then you put that in a pot and the Premier League clubs disperse that down the leagues to help support them through this.

"What you would be asking for is that player's give something up.”

He added: "The lower leagues, the Football League, is where teams are dependent on supporters week in and week out to pay. That is where their income comes from. They don't have TV revenue like the Premier League has.

"The ramifications of that is that clubs will go bust before they even got to the point where they could actually finish the season."