News   |    July 21st, 2021

Football Family Planning

Our Head of Football Operations Mark Arber shares his thoughts…

Right across Europe, football clubs appear to be gearing up to complete their League competitions in June and July, with a September start for season 2020/21.

There now seems no alternative but to complete this season’s fixtures behind closed doors but football should be considering how as many fans as possible, can watch their team though the live streaming of matches if they are not covered by live TV. Season ticket holders of clubs have already paid for their match tickets for the games that are yet to be played and they should be offered the live stream free whereas others will have to pay.

It should not be about making money but rather ensuring all fans are treated equitably. Many clubs will not be able to make season ticket refunds, and this could be a way of clubs avoiding taking another painful financial hit. Although I am confident many fans will support their clubs in this period and not claim refunds, some won’t, and advertisers and sponsors may take the same view when the dust settles. On 3rd April the Premier League did advance £125m in payments to the EFL and National League Clubs but this is an advance and not a payment.

Live streaming will help to ensure fans are discouraged from going to the stadiums where matches are played or congregating at vantage points around grounds.

With the Euros now taking place in 2021 and the 2020/21 season starting later it is now incumbent upon football’s administrators to ensure that fixture congestion next season does not result again in the situation Liverpool FC found themselves in this season. Preliminary planning is needed now so that discussions with sponsors and others can take place. The Emirates FA Cup and Carabao Cup competitions provide valuable income to lower league clubs. If either were postponed outright that would be a further financial blow to so many of the smaller clubs in this country, at a time when they will still be trying to address the fall out from the significant loss of gate income this season.

There is no easy solution but certainly all FA Cup games should be 90 minutes only with no replays and if a draw the match should go straight to a penalty shoot-out.

Premier League clubs should withdraw from the League Cup for the 2020/21 season only. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, Premier League teams will be playing in European competitions and in a congested season something will have to give. Secondly, we all want England to do well in Euro 2021 as it promotes the national game at all levels, and that won’t happen if our top players turn up next summer both physically and mentally drained from a top-heavy fixture programme.

Finally, for the 2020/21 season the winter break should be abandoned.

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