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Premier League says League One and Two rescue package remains available

Newport County v Newcastle United – Carabao Cup – Fourth Round – Rodney Parade
(Image credit: Nick Potts)

The Premier League has said that its £50million rescue package to League One and League Two clubs remains available.

The EFL rejected the offer, designed to assist clubs affected by the coronavirus pandemic and made up of grants and interest-free loans, after divisional meetings with its clubs on Thursday.

In a statement, the Premier League added that there are “no conditions relating to promotion and relegation, setting the level of salary caps or loan deals, as is being claimed”.

The EFL’s statement described the Premier League’s offer as “conditional”, but the Premier League’s position is that the sole condition is that a club must prove it will soon go out of business because of the pandemic to access the grants and loans.

The rescue package is understood to comprise of £20million in grants, with the remaining £30million as interest-free loans.

A statement released by the Premier League on Friday evening read: “The Premier League can confirm the rescue package offered this week to League One and League Two clubs remains available.

“This proposal – which consists of grants and interest-free loans totalling £50 million – aims to ensure that no club will go out of business as a result of the financial impact of COVID-19, and all will be able to complete the 2020/21 season.

“There are no conditions relating to promotion and relegation, setting the level of salary caps or loan deals, as is being claimed.

“The Premier League has no intention whatsoever to cause divides and will engage with any EFL club, including those in the Championship, that is suffering severe financial losses due to the pandemic.”

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Earlier on Friday, Portsmouth chief executive Mark Catlin said there had been unanimity among League One clubs in rejecting the offer.

He told the PA news agency: “It was far too little, too onerous in regards of the strings attached and didn’t offer any real solution moving forward. It was divisive at a time when we needed unity, it was wrong on so many levels.

“It is woefully short of what’s required. The EFL has been saying since the beginning that there’s a £250m black hole. The offer is embarrassing. I’ve been very defensive of the Premier League but I lost a lot of respect for them with that offer.”

The Premier League has disputed the assertion from the EFL that the offer was conditional, and its position is that clubs just needed to demonstrate hardship as a result of the pandemic in order to secure the support.

Asked what strings he thought were attached, Catlin said: “Things affecting future competitions, things affecting the academies, and in no small part that this was just offered to League One and League Two.

“If you’re trying to assist an organisation, you can’t cause divisions. The EFL feels very isolated at the moment, we don’t feel we’re being given any help, from the Premier League and primarily the Government.”

The Premier League’s offer came less than a week after details of Project Big Picture plans emerged.

PBP was initially developed by Liverpool and Manchester United and publicly endorsed by EFL chairman Rick Parry, much to the disappointment of the Premier League. Its chief executive Richard Masters spoke on Wednesday about the need to “re-establish trust” with the EFL leadership after the events of last weekend.

Dale Vince said he was pleased the offer remained on the table

Dale Vince said he was pleased the offer remained on the table (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The proposals made provision for an immediate £250million package for EFL clubs and a 25 per cent share of future Premier League media revenues, but were criticised because they also sought to concentrate greater power in the hands of the top flight’s ‘big six’ clubs, and were rejected at a Premier League meeting on Wednesday.

Despite the EFL’s collective rejection of the Premier League offer, Forest Green chairman Dale Vince said prior to the Premier League’s statement there was a possibility one or more clubs would be in such dire straits that they could break ranks and go direct to the Premier League for help.

He said it was “decent” of the Premier League to leave the offer of support on the table, and added: “There may be some clubs that are in dire need and it may take too long for an alternative to come.

“Somebody may have to go to the Premier League and say, ‘look, we’re about to not be able to pay wages’ or something, but that’s not our position.

“We have lost revenue like everyone else has, but we’ve made adjustments and we can make more adjustments if we have to.”