Coronavirus: How COVID-19 is hitting smaller English football clubs hardest

Leyton Orient FC's home ground: Breyer Group Stadium in Brisbane Road, East London
Leyton Orient FC's home ground: Breyer Group Stadium in Brisbane Road, East London Copyright Euronews
By Luke Hanrahan
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With football currently shut down and no money coming in from gate receipts, there are fears that scores of clubs could go out of business due to expensive wage bills and outstanding transfer payments.


Football stadiums without fans are a fixture for the foreseeable future, courtesy of the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s causing a major headache for smaller English clubs, who mainly rely on ticket sales for revenue.

While those at the top of the football food chain may be able to ride out the storm, the financial effects of the pandemic are starker for those below the Premier League. They desperately need fans through the turnstiles.

"Every club, all 72 teams in the English Football League (EFL) have faced their own difficulties – some common, some unique – but ultimately, we’re trying to battle through with very little cash coming in," says Danny Macklin, chief executive at Leyton Orient FC.

Leyton Orient have faced ups and downs throughout their 138-year history. But what happens on the pitch now pales into insignificance.

"There were a number of clubs that were struggling pre–COVID-19. COVID-19 has made that situation a damn sight worse and brought it forward," says Macklin.

"We as a club, we’re not immune from any of this. If we’ve got next to no income, next year – with the exception of the income from streaming – it’s going to be really tough for every football club in the Championship, League One and League 2."

Weaker revenues will have the biggest impact on those at the bottom. Clubs in the English football league are now preparing for both seismic changes to the sport, but also to the many thousands of people who rely on it.

At Clapton FC, a non-league club, they’re locked out of their ground. With a question mark over their future, their chief executive Vincent McBean would like to see more support from those at the top.

"I do believe that a lot of clubs will go under," he says.

"There is no planning for us. The Premier League have got their stuff. The other guys who have got the wealth, the money, the position – they know what they can do. Teams at this level – we don’t know, no one can say how many teams are going to be available for the league when the time comes.

"There has to be some form of level playing field in terms of how the resources are distributed."

Watch Luke’s report in the video player above.

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