ONE week on from the suspension of the English Football League season, lower league clubs are facing up to unprecedented challenges as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

After listening to submissions from clubs, the EFL board announced on Wednesday an immediate “£50 million short-term relief package” to help alleviate some of the financial struggles.

As a League Two team, Newport County AFC will have received the advanced £164,200 “basic award” payment into their account and can apply for an interest-free loan of up to £119,800.

Championship clubs received an £800,000 “basic award” plus a £584,000 loan facility, while League One clubs get £250,200 and £182,800 respectively.

The basic award payment is a flat figure for all clubs in the division, staggered over the course of the season.

This is being advanced immediately to help with any short-term cashflow issues.

An additional £1m from the EFL Futures pot, a scheme which rewards clubs for giving opportunities to home-grown young players, will be allocated now on a pro-rata basis.

But these measures alone will not be enough to keep clubs afloat if the suspension of fixtures is extended for months, as seems likely.

“It’s very welcome and will help with short-term cashflow,” said Paul Godfrey, the director and club secretary of League Two’s Cheltenham Town.

“The League is clearly working hard on behalf of clubs but it will depend on how long the disruption continues as to how much funding is needed.

“We will be hit really hard if we cannot sell season tickets,” Godfrey told The Times.

“This is the cashflow spike in early summer that gets many of the lower-division clubs through the summer months.”

South Wales Argus:

County chairman Gavin Foxall said last week that the money the club has made from successful runs in the League Cup and FA Cup over the last three seasons means they are better off than some of their rivals.

“We’ve been extremely fortunate with the cup runs that we’ve had over the last couple of seasons and that money will certainly come into play now significantly in helping us through what will be a turbulent time,” Foxall told BBC Radio Wales.

“We’ve met as a club board and all of us came to the same conclusion – that we are in a fairly favourable position because of our financial position today.

“A few years ago that might not have been the case.”

But the Exiles will still feel the pinch if they are out of action for several months and former FA chief executive Mark Palios says players will need to take pay cuts to help the professional game survive.

Palios is now executive chairman and co-owner of Tranmere Rovers, who beat Michael Flynn’s men in last year’s League Two play-off final at Wembley.

“As an ex-player and [Professional Footballers’ Association] rep, I don’t say this as just an owner, but (the players) do need to get real as to what is happening,” he said.

“I would again make the point that any ‘bale out’ funding package should contain some conditionality focusing on the area of wage control.”

Palios told The Athletic that he will be asking Tranmere’s players to take a 10 per cent pay cut until “normality returns”.

“The first priority for the league was to sort out the short-term cash-flow issue right now and they have,” he said.

“But now we have the harder challenge of trying to get to a position of certainty at a time when nobody can be certain about anything.

“How long will this season go on? Not knowing that will have an impact on budgets and plans for next season, and that is why I think we will need another support package for the medium-term issues clubs will face.

“Are we really going to start next season, whenever that is, and pretend it’s business as usual?

“Football needs a salary cap, the simpler the better. It will be supported by the public and it will reflect the financial reality.”

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