“We’ll get through this if we stick together” – that was the message to Stoke City and their EFL counterparts from League chairman Rick Parry.
Following an emergency board meeting on Wednesday, the EFL confirmed its commitment to complete the current season in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Stoke‘s Championship campaign has been suspended until at least April 3 – and most likely longer than that.
But it is hoped that the season can be finished off at some stage rather than be declared null and void.
In the meantime, the EFL announced a £50million short-term relief package to assist cash-strapped clubs during this public health crisis.
In a statement, the competition said: “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.
“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.
“This fund consists of the remaining Basic Award payments being advanced to clubs immediately, with the remainder made up through interest-free loan facility available to Clubs, calculated in line with the EFL’s Article of Associations.
“The cash injection is included as part of a series of measures, that includes potential Government support to help Clubs and their associated businesses through this period of uncertainty. The EFL welcomes last night’s announcement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and is continuing discussions to understand how our Clubs can access the funding made available to support businesses.
“In addition, we will continue our discussions with our football partners to determine how we can all get through this difficult, challenging and unprecedented situation.”
Such news will be a welcome shot in the arm to teams, with the Covid-19 outbreak leaving League One and League Two clubs facing a reported £50m black hole.
“In terms of immediate financial concerns for clubs, which are acute, we’ve approved a package of £50million to go from EFL coffers to clubs by way of this season’s distributions and an advance of money,” Parry told Sky Sports.
“So that will tide them over for a little while, while we continue to then explore taking advantage of, for example, the range of measures which the chancellor has been announcing in recent days (to assist businesses), which are really helpful.
“It’s all a case of one week at a time. Let’s take this step and then we’ll consider what the next step is.
“We look forward to further dialogue with the FA and Premier League tomorrow (Thursday) to make sure we’re in step with our partner governing bodies.”
On the EFL’s response to this fast-moving situation, Parry added: “It’s a case of cool heads, being calm, listening. Everybody has got a valid view. Nobody has got the right answer in this.
“It’s unprecedented. There isn’t a manual, there’s no rule book which tells you how to do this.
“what we all said today is, we’ll get through this if we stick together, and if we stay calm.
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“It’s not a time for fragmentation, it’s not a time for listening to rumour. It’s a case of all trying to pull together, recognising the challenges and recognising that we have a vast ranges of clubs, from the biggest to the smallest.
“They all face the same challenges, we all want to move forwards together for as long as we possibly can.”