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Government grant allows England’s National League to restart


London (AFP) – Government funding to cover the loss of matchday revenue will ensure the 2020/21 season in England’s fifth-tier National League will start as planned on Saturday.

Plans for a supporters’ return to stadiums has been put on hold due to a spike in coronavirus infections in the UK.

However, there are fears that dozens of clubs lower down the football pyramid could go bust if they are forced to play behind closed doors for up to six months.

In a statement, the National League said: “In recent weeks, the National League and the Football Association have been engaged with Government to address the revenue shortfall expected by member clubs caused by the pause to the safe return of spectators.

“The National League has now received confirmation of significant financial grant-aid support from the Government to compensate clubs for essential revenue lost from fans not returning in October, and has communicated with its member clubs to provide reassurance ahead of the season start.”

The English Football League (EFL), which represents the three divisions below the Premier League, is in talks with the top-flight clubs over a bailout to cover their costs for the season.

Britain’s Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has put pressure on the Premier League to step in and help out rather than leaving the lower leagues to turn to the public purse.

“We’re all agreed the Premier League needs to step up to the plate and they’re having intensive discussions with the EFL over how they can support those clubs,” said Dowden earlier this week.

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