End of furlough scheme will cause EFL clubs more problems – Rotherham chairman

Rotherham chairman Tony Stewart has warned EFL clubs’ survival fight will get harder when the Government’s furlough scheme ends this week.

The furlough programme finishes on October 31 and is being replaced with a new Job Support Scheme, which will allow businesses to retain employees on shorter hours for the following six months.

Stewart told the PA news agency: “There’s a bit of help for those drowning, but for the rest of us running as tight as we can, if we’re not careful our ship will hit the rocks.

Rotherham have lost out on £1.5million revenue, says chairman Tony Stewart
Rotherham have lost out on £1.5million revenue, says chairman Tony Stewart

“The water is getting shallower and shallower as we sail forward and stopping the furlough is another instance where we’re going to be having problems.”

EFL clubs have rejected the Premier League’s proposed £50million rescue package for Sky Bet League One and League Two clubs.

A loans and grants package for clubs in the bottom two divisions was put forward at a Premier League shareholders’ meeting earlier this month after Project Big Picture was dismissed.

“Lack of funding is due to many reasons, it’s not just the furlough,” Stewart said. “We haven’t got crowds coming in, we’re not selling programmes, we haven’t got hospitality, lack of sponsorship and we’re still putting the show on.

“We’ve got all the costs associated with running a football club, but we’ve no revenue and the furlough is another instance where we’re being starved of all areas of funding.”

Stewart said the Millers had lost out on £1.5m revenue since football was suspended in March and those losses will rise to £2m by January.

“The EFL are putting out this SOS funding, so does that mean that any club which has serious cash-flow problems can dip into the reservoir to stop them going into administration?” he said.

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We continue to work closely with the EFL to ensure a safe return for fans but will only be able to achieve this with your help.#rufc#ForeverTogetherForeverProudhttps://t.co/nwn7v27h7M

— Rotherham United (@OfficialRUFC) October 28, 2020

“Before Christmas more and more clubs will be relying on this rescue fund – and is that limited? How big are their resources? It’s not bottomless and that’s the problem.”

Stewart feels the biggest issue is getting fans safely back into stadiums and that EFL clubs were not being informed of any progress in talks between the Government and football’s authorities.

“We’re not getting told anything,” he added. “I talk to other chairmen regularly and as much as people are saying they’re doing what they can do, nothing is forthcoming. It’s ridiculous.”