U.K.’s Dowden Says Premier League Must Help Smaller Soccer Clubs

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U.K. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden suggested the onus is on English soccer’s Premier League to support smaller clubs that are struggling financially because coronavirus restrictions mean crowds can’t return to watch matches.

“We are all agreed that the Premier League needs to step up to the plate and they are having intensive discussions” with lower divisions in soccer’s hierarchy, Dowden told Sky News on Sunday, adding that the top clubs will meet on Tuesday to discuss the issue. “The direction is clear. We understand that the Premier League needs to play its part and I’m in close consultation with them.”

The government earlier this month put a halt on plans for crowds to return to sporting events from Oct. 1, citing a resurgence in the coronavirus pandemic that needs to be brought under control. That’s left sporting clubs around the country reeling, as they’re unable to tap income from match-day receipts to keep their businesses afloat.

Dowden indicated government support will also be forthcoming, saying “it’s time for the government to have their backs.”

“We are working across all sports, because remember it is not just football, to see what support they need after the decision relating to Oct. 1,” he said. “I’ve actually asked for them all to provide formal returns by Wednesday of exactly their situation and we are looking at a range of measures that we could introduce in order to help and support them.”

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