If the government truly believes in levelling-up "left behind" towns, it will save their football clubs

Boris Johnson, EFL Football league
(Image credit: PA)

Saturday was supposed to be the day. The first weekend in October was due to see crowds back into sporting venues. After a few pilot events, October was supposed to be the beginning of a return to normality. Instead, it could be the beginning of the end, the start of six months of empty stadia, emptying bank accounts and potential bankruptcies.

The Football League faces the greatest existential crisis of its 132-year history. The biggest issue of this season is not promotion or relegation, but if it still has 72 members in May. Overpaid players, transfer-market mistakes, poor owners and bad business practices may be contributory factors at certain clubs, but the removal of the majority of the game’s income stream is the threat to the survival of historic institutions. 

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Richard Jolly

Richard Jolly also writes for the National, the Guardian, the Observer, the Straits Times, the Independent, Sporting Life, Football 365 and the Blizzard. He has written for the FourFourTwo website since 2018 and for the magazine in the 1990s and the 2020s, but not in between. He has covered 1500+ games and remembers a disturbing number of the 0-0 draws.