Former FA chief exec warns EFL clubs face virus ‘insolvency’

Mark Palios expects more financial stress on the clubs in summer. (Facebook pic/trfcofficial)

LONDON: Former English Football Association chief executive Mark Palios has warned the cost of the coronavirus to lower-league clubs could be even larger than the £200 million forecast by officials.

Rick Parry, the chairman of the English Football League, which governs the three divisions below the Premier League, estimated the cost of lockdown earlier this month.

But Palios, the chairman of third-tier Tranmere, believes the financial damage could be worse.

“Whilst you may look at the ‘hole’ which has been – I think it’s bigger than that,” Palios told Sky News.

“There is a real financial maelstrom coming towards the league at this point in time.

“I personally believe we haven’t seen the worst of it yet, and during the course of the summer you’ll see a lot more financial stress on the clubs as we move onwards and continue to pay wages.

“I think what you’ll see is a lot of clubs will stumble down the road to insolvency.”

Teams in third-division League One have still to agree on how to end their season, with Palios – whose club sit in the relegation zone – calling for relegation to be scrapped.

“We don’t want to have a decision foisted upon us that is going to affect us financially,” said Palios. “Why would you… in terms of certain clubs, foist on them an even worse position?”

Palios said the impact of the coronavirus meant EFL rules that hit insolvent clubs with points penalties should be relaxed.

Although points deductions can be appealed on the grounds of ‘force majeure’ events, Palios also called for a clarification of rules regarding clubs which entered administration.

“This is a consequence of a pandemic, so I think they need to be considering that clubs may need to go to the protection of administration,” he said.