Government 'should create bailout fund' for struggling EFL clubs, says Damian Collins MP

Locked gates at football stadium
No EFL games have been played since elite football in England was suspended on 13 March

The government should offer financial help to struggling English Football League clubs in exchange for a minority shareholding, a new report suggests.

Former Digital, Culture, Media and Sport chair Damian Collins MP outlined his proposals on Friday with Sunderland shareholder Charlie Methven in the blueprint "A Way Forward for Football'.

It aims to protect clubs from the financial effects of coronavirus.

Collins fears "five or 10 clubs could go bust" without aid this summer.

Included in a six-point plan by Collins and Methven is a 'Football Finance Authority' created by the Football Association, with funding provided by the government helping to keep clubs afloat.

However, the money would be used for short-term issues and "breathing space to restructure" a club's finances, not on recruiting players.

Independent directors "would be appointed to the boards of clubs as representatives for this minority shareholding".

The report also adds the new authority should feature representation from the EFL, the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) and the Football Supporters' Association.

Collins, the Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe, told BBC Radio Manchester: "The government is going to have to get involved in creating a bailout fund for clubs that need it.

"Rather than just give money to clubs, because I don't have a lot of confidence they will spend it well or properly, I think what the government should offer with the support of the FA is to say 'we will buy a stake in the club, maybe 20%, and appoint some independent local directors from the community who will oversee our interest.'

"In return they will have access to proper financial information about the club and in turn that stake could then be bought by a supporters' trust or a local authority so a stake of community ownership remains."

He continued: "This will help the clubs through a short-term cash crisis where otherwise they would go bust and the other thing it will do is start to reform the finances of clubs.

"I think we have to create an independent financial regulator for the EFL that will make sure the rules are properly enforced.

"Football has always been resistant to have that support, but we've got this opportunity now where clubs will be so desperate for financial support, they will have to accept the sort of oversight that goes with it."

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