Premier League 'can't give blank cheque' to lower-league clubs: CEO

London (AFP) –


Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said on Tuesday there could be no "blank cheque" to bail out the English Football League (EFL) despite the financial crisis engulfing clubs.

The top-flight is in negotiations with the EFL over a financial package to ensure no sides go out of business due to the coronavirus pandemic, though an agreement has yet to be reached.

England's lower-league clubs, forced to play their matches behind closed doors, last month rejected an offer from the top-flight of a £50 million ($66 million) rescue package.

EFL chiefs said the bailout, which would have covered clubs in third-tier League One and fourth-tier League Two was insufficient and insisted outfits in the second-tier Championship should also be included in any offer.

"The Premier League has engaged and wants to seek resolution but there can't be a blank cheque or an underwriting of losses," Masters told lawmakers on the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee.

"We believe our proposal is appropriate and goes to the heart of the problem and is in line with government policy on how it deals with other sectors.

"We believe we are stepping up and helping the pyramid of football. We have yet to reach an agreement with Rick (EFL chairman Rick Parry) but I am confident we can do that."

Masters said the Premier League could make money available immediately to ensure clubs "don't suffer distress or get to the point of administration".

"We are huge supporters of the pyramid and understand its importance," he added.

Parry said he hoped a deal could be agreed by the end of the month.

Asked by committee chairman Julian Knight whether that would be the case, Parry replied: "I think now we have a commitment that the Championship is going to be embraced we can move forwards. We sincerely hope so.

"We would very much like to come to a deal with the Premier League."

Masters confirmed the Premier League would be "changing direction" away from the controversial decision to broadcast several games behind an additional paywall.

"We took a decision to move to pay-per-view and now we are reviewing that decision," Masters said.

"We have listened to feedback, we will be changing direction and moving away from it and taking another step that will see us through lockdown, the Christmas period and into January. I can't announce what it is."