FA Cup: Lewes FC call for prize money to be redistributed

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport
Arsenal lift the 2020 FA Cup trophy earning £3.6m, but next season's winners will earn half that figure.
Arsenal earned £3.6m for winning the FA Cup this year, but next season's winners will secure half that

Seventh-tier Lewes FC are calling for FA Cup prize money to be redistributed to lower-league and women's clubs next season to help prevent them from "going out of existence".

Lower-league teams face an uncertain future because of coronavirus restrictions which could impact on crowds attending games.

And FA Cup prize money will also reduce by almost half this season to about £15m, with nearly 45% of that going to teams that reach the quarter-finals.

But Lewes want those who win prize money in the competition's final three rounds to forgo it. That would only affect the four semi-finalists, which in the past five seasons all have been Premier League teams.

"By taking money from the top end and reallocating it to the bottom end, you put thousands of pounds, or tens of thousands of pounds, to the clubs who desperately need it," Lewes director Charlie Dobres told BBC Sport.

"In many cases, the money will be game-changing and live-saving but for the clubs losing out in the last three rounds, it won't make much of a difference.

"The winners are all the lower-league clubs and women's clubs, many of whom will be saved from going out of existence. This will enable them to start the season and operate."

Lewes have also called on the government to supplement the deficit to take the prize money back up to £30m.

Their detailed plans,external-link which show where the money would be distributed round by round and would more than double money for teams from the FA Cup extra preliminary round through to third round qualifying, would also significantly boost the prize money for the FA Women's Cup.

Lewes' proposals come after the government announced plans for clubs at step seven or below to allow some fans into games.

From 22-30 August, crowds will be limited to less than 15% of ground capacity. From 31 August that will rise to 30%.

Lewes play in the Isthmian League Premier Division, which is at step seven.

Dobres said: "It's a welcome move, clubs are grateful, and it's a good start, but it’s nowhere near enough. What we can't have is a sticking plaster to major injuries."

The government has welcomed the Premier League's decision to advance £125m to EFL and National League clubs in April, but a Department of Culture, Media and Sport spokesperson said: "Football clubs are a vital part of their local communities and must be protected.

“The government has provided unprecedented financial support to businesses to cope with the pandemic, which many clubs have benefited from.

"We are in regular dialogue with all the football authorities to understand their financial position and have been clear that revenue from the resumption of the sport at the highest levels must support the wider football family."

An FA spokesperson added: "After two seasons of record levels of prize funds, the Emirates FA Cup prize fund has returned back in line with 2017-18 levels due to the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The FA is currently planning for potential losses of approximately £300m and has proposed a significant number of redundancies and reductions in competition prize money as a result.

"We recognise that all of football needs to work together to support the return of the game at all levels. Over 40,000 teams across grassroots, the National League System and women’s football pyramid have been awarded funding to help them return from the Covid-19 pandemic via the Premier League, the FA and government’s Football Foundation."

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