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Football clubs consider midday kick-offs to cut energy bills

Lunchtime kick-offs for weekend league and FA Cup games are said to be considered by clubs in the EFL and the wider football pyramid to deal with the crisis cost of living, according to a new survey.

Sixty-three per cent of the 40 clubs – including 12 EFL teams – surveyed by football reform group Fair Game over the past fortnight said they would consider earlier kick-offs to help reduce football bills. energy as daylight hours decrease if they were given permission.

The government has pledged to support businesses facing rising energy costs, but it is unclear whether this will benefit football clubs or how long any support will last, and concerns over the energy cost crisis life among clubs outside the Premier League remain high.

Overall, clubs rated their concern over the cost of living crisis at seven out of 10, rising to more than eight out of 10 among League Two teams.

Sixty per cent of the 40 clubs are considering halting pitch improvement work due to the crisis, while 38 per cent are preparing to review their non-playing staff budgets.

The release of the survey comes as Premier League clubs prepare to hold further talks around a new financial distribution model to support the EFL and the rest of the pyramid.

The so-called ‘New Deal For Football’ is not expected to be signed by the 20 clubs when they gather for a shareholders’ meeting in London on Wednesday. The plan is expected to include a new system of merit-based payments to Championship clubs and changes to parachute payments.

Changes to the domestic calendar from 2024 are also part of the ‘New Deal’ talks, and Premier League clubs are said to be largely on board with wanting to scrap FA Cup third and fourth round replays. , which have historically been an important source of revenue for lower league clubs.

Europe’s new club competitions will take up even more space in an already crowded 2024-25 season schedule, with a further 64 matches added to the Champions League and continental fixtures set to take place in January for the first time.

Top-flight teams are seen as less aligned with the future of the Carabao Cup.

It is understood that the league’s ‘Big Six’ clubs are unanimously in favor of allowing teams playing in Europe to enter a team under 21 in the Carabao Cup or not to enter it at all. everything.

Other Premier League clubs also support the proposal, but some less regularly involved in Europe fear the League Cup will be devalued too much by such a move. Reducing the attractiveness of competition would again impact EFL revenue.

Top-flight clubs are understandably growing optimistic that plans for an independent football regulator could be delayed, watered down or scrapped altogether under new Prime Minister Liz Truss.

His predecessor Boris Johnson and former Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries were both supporters of the regulator but have now been removed from office, while Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston’s future is still uncertain. He gave his public support to Truss’ rival Rishi Sunak in the Conservative leadership campaign.

Huddleston had warned that the regulator would be given backing powers to impose a financial distribution settlement on the Premier League and EFL if they could not agree to it themselves.

A white paper on the regulator was originally due to be published this summer, but was initially delayed by the leadership race, while government business was put on hold during the period of national mourning following the Queen’s death .

However, the future of this legislation and other legislation is now uncertain.

Fair Game chief executive Niall Couper said the results of the investigation were further demonstration of why action was urgently needed.

“The results paint a very bleak future for football outside the top echelons of the game,” he said.

“Having survived the pandemic, the cost of living crisis may well be the death knell for hardworking community clubs at the bottom of the pyramid.

“Lower league football clubs are the heart of their communities, but at the moment they are in intensive care.

“The Premier League is going to offer a band-aid at best. They’ve had decades to fix the problem and they should stay away.

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