Scunthorpe chairman Peter Swann calls for support to keep EFL clubs in business
Scunthorpe chairman Peter Swann has called for support, clarity and some joined-up thinking to prevent EFL clubs going to the wall during the coronavirus crisis.
Domestic professional football was brought to a shuddering halt on Friday in an attempt to slow the spread of Covid-19, with the sport pencilled in for a return in early April.
Few around the game expect the leagues to resume at that point, leaving huge questions as to how clubs and their employees survive during these trying, and unprecedented, times.
The EFL Board is meeting on Wednesday to discuss coronavirus’ impact, with League One and League Two clubs reportedly asking the competition to address the £50million black hole facing them.
Scunthorpe chairman Swann believes they could miss out on around £500,000 if, as he fears, the League Two season is not completed and is hoping for some answers.
“We’re now working on various ways we can sort of support ourselves and get through this,” he told the PA news agency.
“But I think until the EFL, the FA and the Premier League come up with something this week, we’re still a little bit up in the air on really how the football club finishes the season off.
“How does it finance itself? And how does it move on? And I think until they decide, I don’t know if there’s a lot we can do with it.
“I’ve seen in the press that there are so many different clubs and different ideas of how we should get through it – null and voiding it, finishing it. finishing it in a couple of months.
“It’s a very, very difficult situation and you have to weigh up people’s lives in it as well.
“We are secondary to making sure that people are safe and well, so I just hope they come up with something substantive this week that we can all work together on.”
Swann, like his contemporaries, has countless questions about the minutiae during this “madness”, but queries over player contracts and transfer windows pale into insignificance when it comes to the financial implications.
It is a period the Scunthorpe chairman expects to leave him “absolutely battered”, given his other business interests are in entertainment and tourism.
Swann believes bringing forward solidarity payments could help lower league clubs, but the “national game” will need government support during a time that Covid-19 delays mean “it’s possible that half a dozen teams go into admin”.
Asked if he thinks he will have a better idea about the lie of the land by the end of the week, he said: “I hope so with three governing bodies sitting this week – it will be nice if they’ve actually talked to each other, which would be the first point.
“Second point is that they don’t just say one thing and don’t have a backup for it.
“I really do hope that it’s not another just a temporary ‘well, we’ll be back in June to play however many games’.
“I mean, League One, League Two could probably play nine or 10 games in a month anyway, so a month could finish off them off.
“I think it’s slightly different, maybe in the Championship and the Premiership.
“But I really do hope that they’ve got a proper plan and we can all work towards it because there are a lot teams, who are going to be struggling financially and will go out of business or at least go into administration.”