Published: 14:00, 25 September 2020
| Updated: 14:55, 25 September 2020
Gillingham manager Steve Evans has called for action not words from the EFL and their chairman Rick Parry.
The Gills are facing further struggles with the decision of the government to abandon plans for fans to attend matches in October. The lockout could extend for six months.
Club chairman Paul Scally has said their own club would struggle to make it to Christmas without matchday income, in an interview earlier this week, and Evans has called for Mr Parry and his organisation to come up with a rescue package before it’s too late.
Evans said: “I am fed up with reading about what the EFL and Rick Parry is going to do. I am only a mere manager, I am not an owner, but Rick just do it, stop talking and produce a package for the clubs because clubs are bleeding.
“He can do something about this but what’s the opposite? You do nothing.
“Rick Parry is vastly experienced, I like him, he is a real good guy, very positive but everywhere across the country I am speaking to managers and players are just terrified about their jobs, people around stadiums getting laid off. We are no different.
“We do need the leader of this organisation, and the board of the EFL, to stand up and be counted now.
“This isn’t a surprise now what is happening is it? Everyone knew there was a second wave coming. I don’t listen to Boris anymore but I do listen to the best medical minds we have got in this country. I value their opinions. When they said back in June and July that there is a second wave coming from October to Christmas and we need to be ready, there should have been concerns and people saying ‘how are we going to help our clubs to get through this pandemic.’ I just wonder where that level of thought has been.”
Evans feels the Premier League should play their part too.
He said: “From a personal point of view I think it is absolutely shameful that the Premier League have not stepped in with some measure of help, they have sat away and ignored us.
“They are not getting crowds themselves but they get TV and media revenue that allows them to buy players for £50-90 million and are contributing to players being on £600,000 a week.
“When you see people going to clubs in the Premier League for the levels they are going at, you just wonder about the state of the game below that level.”
The EFL, on behalf of Mr Parry, have issued a statement in response to the government’s decision to delay crowds returning to sporting events. The EFL had been staging pilot events of up to 1,000 supporters inside stadiums.
That statement, in full, said: “Following the successful return of supporters to seven fixtures on Saturday, the EFL is disappointed at (the) decision to suspend plans for the return of fans to matches.
“Of course we recognise that the UK is facing a significant public health crisis and that sport has to play its part in helping the government manage the spread of the virus at this difficult time. This is why over many months we have helped the government devise, refine and pilot stringent stadium protocols designed to keep supporters safe.
"Staging professional football matches is one of the most heavily regulated areas of crowd management and any supporters attending EFL fixtures, in vastly reduced numbers, would have been required to adhere to social distancing and the rule of six.
“Therefore we are deeply frustrated that we will not be able to continue this work and, in doing so, gather the evidence to show that crowds can return safely to football and become an important financial lifeline for our clubs. Therefore, as a matter of urgency we now need to understand what the government’s roadmap is for getting supporters back into stadiums as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.
"With extended measures introduced, it is imperative that the financial issues facing our clubs are addressed quickly.
"EFL clubs lost £50m last season as a result of playing matches behind closed doors or curtailing the season and stand to lose a further £200m in 2020/21 should we be required to play the whole season without supporters in grounds. I am encouraged that the government has recognised the need for urgent financial assistance for sport and discussions will continue with DCMS and the Premier League.
"We remain optimistic that a solution will be found but we should also be very clear that if it is not, then the outlook for many clubs in the period ahead will be very challenging.”