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Rotherham chairman fears clubs "in dire straits" without supporters present

Rotherham chairman fears clubs
© Reuters
The Rotherham chairman has warned that clubs at all levels will struggle to survive without cash from supporters.

Rotherham chairman Tony Stewart has warned it is not only clubs at the bottom end of the English Football League who are in danger of going bust.

The Government has responded to rising Covid-19 infection rates by putting plans for the return of fans to sports venues in England from October 1 on hold.

Without match-day revenue some clubs are struggling to survive and Stewart, at Rotherham's helm since 2008, fears a further spell of football without fans is "a disaster waiting to happen".

"We're in the Championship and we are going to lose probably £3-4million. Is that sustainable? No it isn't," Stewart told the PA news agency.

"I can see a lot of clubs in League One and Two, if no money is forthcoming and the close-down remains with regards to fans, there will be a lot of clubs, even in the Championship, that will go into administration.

"That's the message I gave in March or April this year. I don't think the EFL has been inactive, all I'm saying is we're in the dark. We don't know what's happening week on week.

"I know it's difficult and we're all in it together, but clubs in League One and Two, and some in the Championship, have no income and yet we're still playing the games.

"The Government and the Premier League and the EFL need to get together and realise the dire consequences that are out there."

Stewart said the EFL had requested cash-flow projections – if football were to return behind closed doors – from every club earlier this summer.

"We had to submit cash flows back in June, maybe before that, and show what would happen if the close-down remained, so they've got the picture," he said.

"They know the disaster that is waiting to happen. What we're saying is, with regards to action, nothing is forthcoming."

Tony Stewart, right, celebrates Rotherham's promotion to the Championship in 2018
Tony Stewart, right, celebrates Rotherham's promotion to the Championship in 2018 (Richard Sellers/PA)

Stewart is concerned that there is a general misconception, shared at a political level, that English football has plenty of money to cope with the crisis.

"The problem is, and it's not just MPs, a lot of people think there's a lot of money awash in the sport," he added.

"They watch the Premier League and hear about Chelsea spending £200m and (Gareth) Bale getting £600,000 a week.

"But they're not looking into it as deep as they should. Take the Premier League out of the equation and the EFL is in dire straits."

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