Premier League committed to EFL rescue package despite resource crunch

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Liverpool v Chelsea - Anfield, Liverpool, Britain - July 22, 2020 Premier League's CEO Richard Masters and Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish with trophy after the match Pool via REUTERS/Paul Ellis

(Reuters) - Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters has defended the organisation's current COVID-19 bail-out offer for English Football League (EFL) teams, saying "scarce resources" among elite clubs is a reason for deadlock over the funding package.

The EFL, which represents the three divisions below the Premier League, last month rejected a 50 million pounds ($65.66 million) offer from the top flight for League One and League Two clubs saying it wanted a deal which covered all of its teams.

Although the Premier League's initial offer was for third and fourth-tier clubs, last week the shareholders added that they were willing to support any Championship (second-tier) club facing financial strain amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our offer goes to the issue of 'need' rather than 'want,' and where you have scarce resources in the current environment that has to be the right approach," Masters told the politics and policy news organisation Politico

"It also mirrors the government's approach — rescuing other areas of sport, and indeed the economy, to save bits from going out of business, rather than to underwrite losses.

"At the moment there isn't an agreement — but we stand willing to continue to talk, and our offer remains on the table to save clubs if they are in significant COVID-related distress."

Masters has projected that the top flight clubs are missing out on a combined 20 million pounds ($26.26 million) of projected revenue for each round of matches played without spectators.

Despite the financial crisis, Premier League clubs spent over one billion pounds on buying players in the close season transfer window. However, Masters said the spending was necessary to maintain a competitive edge.

"You have to continue to compete, you have to continue to invest," he added.

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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