'They owe us millions' - Chairman of Fleetwood League One rival claims government 'do not care' about EFL clubs

Peterborough United owner Darragh MacAnthony has hit out at the government for their lack of support for lower league clubs during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

Wednesday, 23rd December 2020, 5:12 pm
Darragh MacAnthony. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

A number of EFL clubs have had matches called off in recent days due to an influx of positive tests, with Portsmouth announcing an increase in the size of their outbreak on Wednesday.

Peterborough are among those who are having to postpone fixtures, and are not set to return to action until the new year as a result of a number of Covid-19 cases.

United had held a pilot event allowing a limited number of fans to return to the Weston Homes Stadium earlier this month, but, like many, are once again facing the prospect of empty stands after the surrounding area was moved into Tier Four by the government over the weekend.

And with their earning potential suffering a serious blow, MacAnthony has told Sky Sports News that he believes both his side and their lower league peers need more support from those in charge.

“Our protocols are brilliant and our fans felt really safe”, he said.

"We had 2,000 fans outdoors, instead of going into the shops until five on a Saturday, they’re all outdoors getting fresh air. There’s social distancing, we’ve got a 15,000 capacity, we could easily have 5,000 in there.

"We’ve done it really safely, our protocols were nailed on. The staff at the club were trained, they got all the protocols in place, and again it was for two games, and then it was taken away.

"The idea of following the science, and then you’re basically driving everybody indoors during the winter, when really the safest place is probably to be outdoors, spaced out, breathing fresh air, as opposed to being stuffed indoors in shopping malls or in shopping precincts – all of this ‘follow the science’ is just so contradictory when you see what’s happened.

"What could the government have done? The government have done nothing but shut us down and restrain the trade all year. They told us we couldn’t have fans. They told us we couldn’t open our shop under the tier system. They told us we couldn’t serve food or drink.

"They’ve taken away all our income capabilities all year long, and all they’ve done in response is points fingers and say the Premier League need to bail you out. The Premier League have stepped forward, but the government owe all our clubs millions.

"They’re bailing out other industries, but they’ve not written one cheque or a pound note for the Football League. There’s a bigger world outside the Premier League. That’s where millions and millions of fans they support that could go out of business.

"The least the government could do, and I’ve been saying this for 10 months, forget about a bailout, put a loan fund together and help clubs through this period.

"From February to next February or March when the vaccines finally get all the way through, we’ll have had 12 months in this situation. Help us get through the 12 months.

“The government for me have washed their hands of it and ignored it. I’m not going to get political and everything else, but they don’t care. They don’t care about the EFL.”