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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ‘worried’ for lower league clubs as Covid-19 hits finances

Luton Town v Manchester United – Carabao Cup – Third Round – Kenilworth Road
(Image credit: Catherine Ivill)

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is worried for the future of lower league clubs as football tries to find a way through the devastating financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Plans to reintroduce spectators to sports venues from October 1 have been paused by the Government following of a rise in Covid-19 infections.

The English Football League has warned it faces a £200million collective loss if spectators cannot return in the 2020-21 season.

Norwich was one of the Sky Bet Championship clubs to take part in a pilot of the safe return of spectators to grounds

Norwich was one of the Sky Bet Championship clubs to take part in a pilot of the safe return of spectators to grounds (Nigel French/PA)

Talks between the Premier League and the EFL over a bailout continue, and it is understood there will be conditions within it about how any money is spent.

United boss Solskjaer knows the importance of protecting the football pyramid – but is also acutely aware of the impact having no fans in grounds for the coming months will also have on top-flight clubs.

“The situation we are in and the virus and everything, it is so difficult to predict what is going to happen and now when the rate is going up and fans aren’t coming in, it is even worse for football and society in general,” Solskjaer said.

“So yes, I am worried for League One and League Two clubs, lower teams, of course we are – but all the Premier League teams are losing money.

“Hopefully we can get back and football will be normal and we won’t lose too many clubs.

“How can we do it? We need clubs locally. We have seen Bury, we have seen Macclesfield, Wigan, in trouble, so it’s not a nice situation to be in.”

Sheffield United host Yorkshire rivals Leeds at Bramall Lane on Sunday.

Blades boss Chris Wilder feels the region would be a poorer place if any of its clubs went under because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“In the area which we live in, we are extremely proud of all the clubs which are strong and keep the area going,” Wilder said. “What football plays in this part of the world is huge.

“We are not a one-club city and we are not a two-or-three-club area. Football is a huge part of life in South Yorkshire and it needs to be protected.”

Arsenal made some 55 redundancies across football departments because of the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta feels a long-term lack of revenue from attendances would prove a “brutal” challenge.

“The club is playing without the fans and financially the implications that has, how that can still be sustainable, (I think about) the things we have to achieve as a team to try to improve those finances as well,” he said.

“I think it’s crucial for every club that this doesn’t have too much of a delay because then the challenge ahead is brutal.”