Lecturer of football industries MBA course at the University of Liverpool Kieran Maguire believes that the Championship is the stem of a lot of current football finance issues.
Also featuring on the Price of Football podcast twice a week, Maguire helps to teach both students and his listeners about the intricacies of football club finances and the logic behind the way the authorities work.
“There’s more football finance than anyone realises including me!” says Maguire, “A lot will depend on how the broader issues of Covid are being dealt with.
“There are mixed signals coming from the health authorities and the people driving the economy. Covid has a major negative impact on business in the entertainment and hospitality sector, both of which are football.”
Speaking more on the impacts of coronavirus, Maguire believes that lower leagues will suffer the brunt of the damage as the Premier League can still rely upon lucrative TV deals:
“My biggest fears are in Leagues One and Two because they only get respectively 12% and 8% of the TV money and solidarity payments from the Premier League.”
“I heard a comment from the owner of one of those clubs who said: ‘If we had known there would be no financial support offered to us, we would have tried to get a vote to suspend our season’. What has happened is that there is now a risk of clubs going out of business.
“I understand the EFL itself has said we want to remain relevant so we need to play games. If it means club’s go bust over the next 12 months then individual clubs don’t become relevant.
“We’ve seen what’s happened at Macclesfield, now that was down to lack of owner support but Covid didn’t help them. That could be replicated in many clubs around the country because League’s One and Two in the main are losing money.”
Many are calling upon the Premier League to intervene due to the large amounts of wealth shared by the “Big Six” and are less reliant on gate receipts to turn over a profit due to their global appeal.
Furthermore, talks of “Project Big Picture” have further damaged relationships between football’s elite and the rest of the 92 football league sides.
“The Premier League will suffer a decrease in revenue,” explains Maguire, “Assuming that no matches will take place before a paying audience this season, it’s looking at a revenue deficit of around £1bn.
“Before the Premier League, TV money was split 50/25/12.5/12.5 and what we have now is over 90% of money in the top tier.
“There are many clubs in the Premier League already losing money while clubs in the Championship are trying to replace them so I think chairman see them as direct competition.”
It’s this competition that drives this approach of clubs keeping their cards closer to their chest, as the Government, Premier League and EFL engage in a hypothetical game of poker. Who’s bluffing? Who will make the first move?
“Some Championship clubs are refusing to sell players as they are wanting more money, so I think a lot of them are looking for the Premier League to save them from their overspending.
“The Championship is the biggest problem, not just in English football but in the whole of European football. The business models that operate there in the main are car crashes.
Why should the PL give financial support to a division that for every £100 of revenue spends £107 in wages?
“As far as the bigger clubs in the Premier League are concerned they’re not bothered by the Championship as they’re never going to play there – despite Manchester United’s rather poor start to the season!”