Government orders Premier League clubs to halt transfers and bail out struggling sides instead amid coronavirus hell

BILLIONAIRE Premier League clubs need to divert cash away from 'new strikers' to bail out smaller football clubs on the brink, according to the Culture Secretary.

Oliver Dowden revealed crunch talks will take place on Tuesday to iron out a deal to stop English Football League clubs going bust after fans were again banned from attending games.

He was asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr: “Are you going to insist the clubs help poorer clubs, rather than spend huge amounts of money hiring a new striker?"

Mr Dowden replied: "That's exactly what we're saying to them.”

But he hinted that no club would be allowed to go bust because of Covid measures – with the Government waiting in the wings for the worst case scenario.

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The Minister later told Times Radio: “Let's look to the Premier League first and of course we don't want any club to go bust because of Covid and because of the inability to get fans into stadiums from the first of October.

“We are looking to support those clubs because we know how central they are to our national life.

“We are all agreed that the Premier League needs to step up to the plate and they are having intensive discussions with the EFL about how they can support those clubs so they stand ready to play their part.

"And the Prime Minister and I have been clear in urging them to do that.”

Football League clubs had already started allowing 1,000 fans back into stadiums at select pilot games, before Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a raft of new coronavirus restrictions.

It also meant that plans to get fans back into Premier League grounds next weekend were kicked into the long grass.

But Mr Dowden also hinted the Government would look to Germany to allow fans back into stadiums.

In the German Bundesliga, stadiums are allowed to be filled up to 20 per cent of capacity, providing the local area has an infection rate lower than 35 people per 100,000.

The Culture Secretary said they were 'exploring all those things' and was hopeful of quick mass testing.

The Sun Says

RICH Premier League clubs should bail out lower league outfits facing Covid oblivion.

They are not just the lifeblood of their communities. They and their players are, in part, the lifeblood of the Prem too.

Some have rich owners, who must dig deep now that they are facing a season without fans. But many teams don’t. 

It would be a calamity to let them fail through no fault of their own.

A few, admittedly, are badly run — and the Prem would need strict guarantees on how a £200million donation would be spent by the 72 EFL clubs. 

Some people will say the Government should step in. But it cannot bail out every industry. That way lies ruin. In football’s case there’s another solution.

It’s right for wealthy Prem giants to fund a rescue. It’s in the national interest and their own too.

He added: “We're continuing to explore what will be the ideal solution absent of a vaccine, which would be to have large amounts of in day testing to give people a so called ‘freedom pass’ to be able to go into the stadium.

“We are exploring that, we're exploring further technological innovations, but we are also looking at how we can support the clubs in this difficult period.”

He added the Premier League needs to 'play it’s part' but added he was 'confident of reaching an agreement'.

The Mail On Sunday has reported how Premier League clubs split£2.5BILLION in prize money last season – with the EFL asking for just £250m across the board to survive the pandemic.

Back in April Manchester United chief executive Ed Woodward said football needs to forget about big money transfer business this summer.

Woodward said: “Nobody should be under any illusions about the scale of challenge facing everyone in football and it may not be ‘business as usual’ for any clubs, including ourselves, in the transfer market this summer.

“As ever our priority is the success of team, but we need visibility of the impact across the whole industry, including timings of the transfer window, and the wider financial picture, before we can talk about a return to normality.

“On this basis, I cannot help feeling that speculation around transfers of individual players for hundreds of millions of pounds this summer seems to ignore the realities that face the sport.”

United, who are hoping for a title challenge this season, are the ninth-biggest spenders in the top flight, shelling out £35m.

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