Huddersfield owner says 50 or 60 clubs could go bust in next year

  • Football
  • Monday, 25 May 2020

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Championship - Huddersfield Town v Derby County - John Smith's Stadium, Huddersfield, Britain - August 5, 2019 Huddersfield Town Chairman Phil Hodgkinson Action Images/Ed Sykes

LONDON (Reuters) - Up to 60 English lower league soccer clubs could go out of business if the sport fails to plan for the impact of COVID-19 beyond the current season, Huddersfield Town owner Phil Hodgkinson said on Sunday.

English professional soccer has been suspended since March.

Championship (second tier) clubs are due to return to training in small groups on Monday, with hopes of completing the season behind closed doors.

"The problem is not whether we finish (the) season or not, it is what happens after that," Hodgkinson told the BBC.

"If we don't come to an agreement there will be no football pyramid.

"There are clubs I know of that are only still trading because they are deferring wages and (tax) and other creditors. They will need paying at some point."

Hodgkinson said the worst case scenario would be playing next season without fans allowed to attend matches, leaving many clubs without their major source of income.

Clubs are already facing significant expenditure for COVID-19 testing.

"There is an absolutely real, stark probability that if something isn't agreed now within football to ensure all clubs can pay their bills and get through to the point where income is resumed, you will be looking at 50 or 60 clubs ceasing to exist," said Hodgkinson.

He suggested players' wages needed to be reduced by 30 to 50% at every level until crowds could return, and accused some people in the game of "just sticking their heads in the sand."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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