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Football League chiefs agree £50m rescue package amid virus chaos

19 March 2020, MVT 16:27
This picture shows the surroundings of Everton's Goodison Park football ground on the day that the club should have played the Merseyside derby against Liverpool in the English Premier League, in Liverpool on March 16, 2020. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)
19 March 2020, MVT 16:27

The English Football League has announced a £50 million ($58 million) relief package to assist financially stricken clubs during the shutdown caused by the coronavirus.

English football is suspended as part of the worldwide bid to slow the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.

It is expected matches will not resume at the April 3 date named by Football League and Premier League chiefs as their hoped-for return.

Instead, the focus has moved to helping the lower division clubs struggling with the financial ramifications of the delay to the season.

Some teams fear they could be forced out of business if football doesn't return until after the summer.

Finance was among the topics discussed at Wednesday's EFL Board meeting, when a plan was agreed to help ease the financial burden for cash-strapped teams in the Championship, League One and League Two -- the second, third and fourth tiers of English football.

"As part of the League's continued contingency planning, the Board heard the comments and observations from EFL Clubs, before discussing a number of issues including the current financial position and implications, insurance, regulatory matters and broadcasting arrangements," an EFL statement said.

"Discussions centred on financial relief for Clubs in the short term and while there is no one single solution, measures are to be put in place to immediately assist with cash flow via a £50million short-term relief package."

The EFL board are reviewing the threat and impact of the virus through a dedicated taskforce, but they remain committed to finishing the season if possible."

The primary objective, in order to protect competition integrity, is to deliver a successful conclusion to the 2019-20 season, subject to the overriding priority around health and well-being," the statement read.

"Plans continue to be developed on the agreed principle that it is in the best interests of the EFL and clubs to complete the current season at the appropriate time.

"The EFL is continuing regular dialogue with the government and relevant health authorities and, as and when more information is known regarding the scale and extent of the coronavirus outbreak in this country, a decision will be taken on the resumption of the league's fixtures."

The EFL also announced the postponement of the Football League Trophy final between Portsmouth and Salford, which was scheduled to be played at Wembley in front of over 50,000 fans on April 5.

London, United Kingdom | AFP