THE Football League could see “50 or 60 clubs” go bust as a result of the coronavirus crisis, the Huddersfield Town owner warned.
Phil Hodgkinson is deeply concerned that English football will be completely shaken up if a financial plan is not put in place soon.
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The lifelong Terriers supporter bought the club last May but within a year has seen the football landscape thrown into turmoil by the global pandemic.
And with matches set to be played behind closed doors at least until the autumn and possibly for the next 12 months – the “worst-case scenario” for EFL clubs – a large proportion of the income for lower-league sides is set to be wiped out which could have catastrophic consequences.
Hodgkinson told BBC Sport: “The problem is not whether we finish [this] season or not, it is what happens after that.
“If we don’t come to an agreement there will be no football pyramid. There are clubs I know of that are only still trading because they are deferring wages and [tax] and other creditors. They will need paying at some point.
“There is an absolutely real, stark probability that if something isn’t agreed now within football to ensure all clubs can pay their bills and get through to the point where income is resumed, you will be looking at 50 or 60 clubs ceasing to exist. Genuinely, I am talking about that many.”
Hodgkinson was previously the owner at National League North side Southport so knows all about clubs having to survive on very limited budgets.
His current side, relegated from the Premier League last season, sit 18th in the Championship and are just three points clear of the drop zone.
But now he is worried football is rushing back without considering the “bigger picture” and are instead “sticking their heads in the sand”.
Hodgkinson fears Huddersfield could lose as much as £30million from TV money being taken back by the broadcasters and suggested significant pay cuts for players could be the best solution.
The Terriers chairman added: “It will cost each club between £150,000 and £200,000 for testing to get to the end of the season. But what happens after that?
“What is football going to do to ensure the entire pyramid survives this? The discussion is being avoided. For the next three, six or 12 months clubs are going to have no income.
“The players are not to blame. But the reality is, the players have to be part of the solution because if clubs go bust, their contracts won’t get met anyway.
“They may not like me saying this, but the PFA need to put in place salary cuts of between 30 per cent and 50 per cent for all players at all levels until such a time as crowds are allowed back into football stadiums and income streams return.
“Something has to be done because everyone knows what is coming and people are just sticking their heads in the sand.”
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