Mark Palios: Tranmere chairman expects 'double figure' EFL insolvencies

Mark Palios
Mark and Nicola Palios took a controlling interest in Tranmere in August 2014

Former Football Association CEO Mark Palios says a "double figure" number of English Football League clubs could go into insolvency because of coronavirus.

The EFL and Professional Footballers' Association proposed on Tuesday that clubs in Leagues One and Two defer up to 25% of players' wages for April.

Tranmere chairman Palios said clubs will still not be able to pay on time.

But he added: "The PFA and EFL are starting to collaborate which loosens the paralysis we've seen."

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, Palios continued: "It will probably assist with the April wages, but I still think that certainly the clubs will be unable to meet the wages in April and then more in May."

English football is on an indefinite hiatus, with no play in any of the top four divisions since Tuesday, 10 March - and there is no suggested date for when it could resume.

Last August, Bury became the first team to drop out of the EFL since Maidstone's liquidation in 1992 - and while Palios thinks most clubs will ultimately survive, he anticipates serious financial issues for many.

"I think a certain number of clubs, on the basis of they can't pay contractual wages, will move down the path to a formal insolvency," he added.

"I think it'll be into double figures."

'No crowds at games until end of year'

Andy Pilley, chairman of fellow League One club Fleetwood Town, praised the EFL and PFA, describing Tuesday's conditional wage deferral as "appropriate" and "sensible".

"It's not going to solve the problem, but it's a step in the right direction," said Pilley, in a video blog.

However, he agreed with Palios regarding the number of clubs at severe financial risk as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pilley also predicted that matches will be played behind closed doors when the sport is allowed to resume, and believes there may not be any crowds watching matches until the end of the year.

"It (playing behind closed doors) is the only way we will be able to conclude the season, which is absolutely essential," he said.

"I've heard it suggested that we shouldn't conclude the season - I'm sorry, but I disagree. If you enter a competition, you have an obligation to complete it; to the teams involved in promotion and relegation, supporters, broadcasters and sponsors.

"I am the eternal optimist, however, I must be a realist. My prediction is I think there could be no games in 2020 in front of crowds.

"I base that on a statement made by the chief executive of the Bundesliga. They're a good two or three weeks ahead of us, and he (Christian Seifert) said he expects there to be no live football in 2020."

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