EFL clubs have collectively agreed to accept the Premier League’s offer of a £50m bailout for teams in League One and League Two. After months of often fraught negotiations between the EFL and Premier League, the decision suggests the game may at last find a solution to the financial crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The EFL’s 72 clubs met by division on Thursday to once again discuss an offer that had already been rejected. Clubs last month agreed that any bailout should apply to all three EFL divisions, in a show of solidarity with the Championship.
The Premier League’s offer currently includes unconditional funding – a split between loans and grants totalling £50m – to clubs in League One and League Two. Championship teams, however, have been invited by the Premier League to apply for hardship funds on a case by case basis.
It was this split that had caused the 72 to reject the offer when it was first made. But with an estimated 10 clubs in League One and Two struggling to make payroll in November and with increased government pressure after a confrontational session at the digital, culture, media and sport committee on Tuesday, that position has now changed.
The EFL confirmed its new position in a statement on Thursday evening. “Following a comprehensive debate in all three divisions, a collective agreement in principle was made to move forward and finalise the negotiations‚” it read. “Championship clubs [made] it clear today that they wanted to ensure their colleagues in League One and League Two received the proposed £50m financial support package to cover gate losses for 2019-20 and 2020-21 as soon as is practically possible.
“The EFL believes that today represents a significant step forward and is hopeful that a final agreement on the short-term rescue package across all three divisions can be reached imminently which will provide much needed support, clarity and certainty for all EFL clubs at a time when they need it most.”
The question will now arise as to what support will be made available for struggling Championship sides. The Premier League has argued strongly that it is not willing to underwrite the losses of second-tier clubs who have either been able to spend money in the transfer market this summer, or recoup it from sales (often to Premier League sides). That the EFL draws attention to a “short term” solution for all three divisions may suggest a change in approach is coming from both parties.