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PUSB: 'From The Board' versus Swansea City

21 October 2020

After each matchday programme this season, we publish the regular column from the Coventry City board on our website. Read Coventry City Chief Executive Dave Boddy's column from Tuesday's game against Swansea City below:

Good evening and welcome to this evening’s game against Swansea City in the Sky Bet Championship.

We extend our usual warm Sky Blues welcome to the players and officials of the Swans who join us at St Andrew’s tonight.

Since my last notes, a main focus of ourselves and the EFL remains around funding for the 72 clubs for the remainder of this season. The EFL and ourselves have lobbied the Government, and we have lobbied our local MPs and the West Midlands Mayor to push for a return of supporters at the earliest possible opportunity.

Whilst the safety of spectators and the general public has to be of paramount importance, the game generally believes that we can safely return fans into outdoor stadiums under reduced capacities in reduced numbers and with numerous precautions in place, including good data for track and trace purposes.

At this moment in time, with no sight of spectators returning and the earliest possible dates being floated as February, the EFL needs Government support – either in trying to return spectators safely, and/or in the form of a grant to keep Club’s afloat during this crisis.

EFL Clubs are at a loss to understand how it can be possible to have an audience of around 1500 people at an indoor performance in the London Palladium last week, and another planned for the Royal Albert Hall prior to Christmas of circa 2,500 people in a 5,000 capacity venue indoors, and we can’t get fans in at a reduced capacity in our outdoor stadiums, with arguably better facilities to cope with this than at those venues.  

The Government has laudably given a grant to the National League and to Rugby League to keep their Clubs alive, which is essential to the communities that they serve. Collectively, EFL Clubs need in the region of £250 million (£50 million for lost gates last season, £200 million for this season) to survive. The Government now needs to provide this grant support for the EFL too.

While I have heard arguments about player wages in the game, EFL Championship Clubs alone contribute £40 million per month in PAYE tax and national insurance contributions to the Government. That is without discussing the contribution Clubs make to their local economies, their communities and the individual lives of supporters.

The EFL is also looking for financial support from the Premier League, which is welcomed and necessary, but the Government should not be relying on the Premier League to bail out the national game and still has to contribute.

Sky Blues fans will have read with interest last week Project Big Picture, which in the short-term would appear to have been rejected by the Premier League. However, it is without doubt that the financial structure of the game needs to change and I have no doubt that in whichever guise it happens, the subject will be revisited and evolve.

Project Big Picture and the financial bail out of the EFL should not be seen as one, and in my opinion are two completely separate issues.

Revenue for Clubs is vital as this time, and a key aspect at the moment is streaming of games on iFollow. For our away games against Bristol City and Barnsley, we averaged around 2,500 subscribers which has netted the Club circa £50k. This is vital income to the Football Club, and we thank those who have paid for their match passes. We are aware of some fans who are watching without paying on illegal streams – this is damaging for the Football Club and our revenue, and the EFL are actively looking to prosecute people caught streaming these games illegally.

Enjoy the game tonight – and as always… Play Up Sky Blues!

Dave


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