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CHAIRMAN: FUTURE OF FOOTBALL NEEDS TO BE DISCUSSED

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Huddersfield Town Chairman Phil Hodgkinson discusses the future of football

- Phil Hodgkinson backs attempted completion of the 2019/20 campaign
- Town’s Chairman urges the EFL to discuss 2020/21 now
- Watch the full interview below on #HTTV

Huddersfield Town Chairman Phil Hodgkinson is happy to complete the current 2019/20 campaign - but believes there are much bigger issues that the EFL and that football should be discussing.

Danny Cowley’s First Team squad will return to training on Monday (25 May 2020) ahead of a proposed completion to the current season, which will be played behind-closed-doors.

Town’s Chairman explained that he agrees with the EFL’s framework to complete the campaign, but believes there is a far more important issue that needs solving now.

“The season should be completed when it’s safe to do so and there should be relegation and promotion.

“Everyone has worked hard; we are three quarters of the way through the season.

“We are on board with that, but there’s a much bigger issue that needs to be discussed in tandem with that.”

The bigger issue is the future of football, not just the Sky Bet Championship, but all the way up and down the football pyramid.

With the uncertainty regarding revenue clubs will receive, the potential of playing games behind-closed-doors, and the huge outgoings that all football clubs have, there’s an increasing concern that football clubs may not make it through the COVID-19 situation.

“We are in the middle of a pandemic. The Government have confirmed categorically that there will be no crowds at sporting events until such a time where there is a vaccine; that’s looking like it could be 2021,” detailed Hodgkinson.

“What that means for football, at every level, is that there will be no match day revenue, no income coming through. It’s very unlikely that there will be much through sponsors, advertising, season ticket sales, corporate hospitality, everything. Football will be without income other than broadcast income.

“As we’ve all been reading for the last few weeks, the broadcaster are very much invoking clauses that relate to displacement of games and looking to claw back hundreds of millions of pounds this season, and probably next as that won’t start on time either; that’s going to have a significant affect all the way down the football pyramid.

“For me, it’s all well and good talking about finishing the season, which is great because everyone wants that to happen, but you can’t agree to finish the season in these circumstances until there has been discussion, dialogue and agreement on how the football pyramid can survive a prolonged period without any revenue at all. For me, that’s a much more important discussion and agreement, which needs to take place than the completion of the season – it needs to happen in tandem.”

Town’s Chairman continued:

“We are being asked to fund costs to cover the season, testing and other additional things, which is absolutely fine – I have no issue with that at all! But there are clubs further down the pyramid, who aren’t in the same situation as us, being asked to do the same thing, but there’s no solution in place to tell them whether that extra expenditure will take them further down the road to going out of business; that’s the reality of it.

“What I’m saying is that we need to have that dialogue and come to those conclusions now, at the same time we are discussing completing the season. Football without the revenue will not have the pyramid and football needs the pyramid.

“Let’s not pretend that football didn’t cause this problem, it did. Football has created the position we are in. What we have now is the opportunity, with this COVID-19 pandemic, is to get football back into a place where it’s run better. Football has caused this problem and football should fix it. If this isn’t solved, you could be looking at 40, 50, 60 clubs in the pyramid ceasing to trade within the next six to 12 months; that’s how big this problem is.”

Hodgkinson raised his concerns to the EFL, but they have yet to be acted upon.

“I’m astounded… I wrote a letter to the EFL a week ago, to the EFL Executive who is dealing with this, asking for this to be discussed along with our ongoing discussions about completing the season. I’m really disappointed that I haven’t received a reply.

“We’ve distributed that letter to every football Chairman in the EFL pyramid and have had positive feedback and so on, but someone needs to pick this up.”

The longer the wait for discussions regarding the upcoming season, the greater Hodgkinson’s worries grow about the future of the game.

“The authorities need to address this now. There needs to be an acceptance that football has created this situation and football needs to get itself out of it. We’ve got an opportunity of fixing this longer term.

“I genuinely fear, it’s an absolute reality, that if we don’t have those discussion now and agree on how football is going to look after itself during a period with barely any revenue or income, then we’re going to be looking at a situation where we lose more than half the clubs in the pyramid and even more at non-league level. There are clubs that are on the verge and we’re not having the discussions.

“I’m genuinely fearful for football if the authorities don’t get together now with the PFA and the other organisations and put something in place so that football can continue at every level whilst we get through this horrible pandemic we are going through.”

You can watch Phil Hodgkinson’s full interview below on #HTTV.


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