O'Neill: Government and Governing Bodies Need to Help Football Clubs
Tuesday, 17th Mar 2020 16:33
General manager of football operations Lee O’Neill admits the Blues are losing significant sums of money during the suspension of fixtures caused by the coronavirus pandemic and believes the Government and football's governing authorities need to look at helping out clubs financially.
Fixtures in the EFL and Premier League are currently postponed until April 3rd, however, with a lengthier hiatus all but certain.
“I don’t think we’re the only club, it’s every football club globally,” O’Neill said when asked about the financial hit the Blues are taking at present.
“I was just having a conversation this morning with some grassroots clubs and it’s going to affect them all because at the end of the day people coming into the stadium and watching football is large part of the revenue stream that clubs need to survive and operate.
“It will have an effect on every football club up and down the country. When football does resume, it’s important that we all get together to try and support that and make sure all clubs can continue to operate.”
O’Neill wouldn’t discuss precise numbers: “I don’t want to go through figures but it’s significant. We are obviously losing quite a lot of money.
“But, like I say, we’re not in isolation and it’s not just football. There’ll be restaurants, bars, theatres, all of those businesses will be taking big financial hits at this moment in time because of the virus and because people aren’t able to go out and socialise and spend their free time as much as they would like to in areas they would like to. It’s frustrating but it’s a necessity at the moment.”
There has been much talk of sime lower league clubs going under during the current crisis. Asked whether the Blues should be protected from the worst of the problems having owner Marcus Evans behind them, O’Neill said: “We’re very lucky to have an owner like Marcus Evans who has invested a lot of money into the football club.
“But it will be affecting him and his finances because of other businesses that he has in and around the world, as it would do for every owner up and down the Football League.
“It’s a tough time for football, it’s a tough time for the economy, it’s a tough time for everybody at the moment and people will lose jobs across the country because of this situation.
“You have to put a lot of things in perspective and, again, I don’t have the answers unfortunately to a lot of the questions that are going to be asked in the up and coming weeks until we’ve got some further guidance from the Government and from our governing bodies.
“Then we can then start planning a little bit more strategically about what that might look like for the end of this season and next.”
Should the Government help clubs out financially? “I think they’re going to have to look at a number of things, football being one of them, but general businesses and how they’ve operated [through the crisis].
“This whole situation, not many people could see it coming and it’s hit everyone really, really hard and it will hit the economy hard.
“It’s definitely an area that the Government and governing bodies need to help football clubs so that they can continue to operate.”
O’Neill says he and others at the club are in regular contact with Evans with meetings planned with the owner later this week.
“We’re in constant communication with Marcus,” he added. “As you know, he’s got a number of businesses all over the world that are all going through the same processes.
“He’s got lots of stuff to sort out at the moment but we are in regular communication, myself and a number of other people at the football club and we’ve got meetings scheduled, so we’ll be working very closely together to make sure that we can give people the answers as quickly as possible and communicate effectively during this time.”
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