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Cambridge CEO worried over financial strain as Neville warns clubs could go bust

The Sky Bet League Two club could have to reduce staff numbers.

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Cambridge chief executive officer Ian Mather warns the club could struggle in the coming months (Steve Paston/PA)

Cambridge chief executive officer Ian Mather warns the club could struggle in the coming months (Steve Paston/PA)

Cambridge chief executive officer Ian Mather warns the club could struggle in the coming months (Steve Paston/PA)

Cambridge chief executive officer Ian Mather is concerned the relief fund on offer from the English Football League may not be enough for the Sky Bet League Two club.

On Wednesday the EFL announced a £50million short-term package to help cash-strapped clubs during the coronavirus crisis, but Mather believes the money will not be a “complete answer”, and the U’s could have to reduce staff numbers.

“These are unprecedented times for all of us in so many different ways,” Mather told Cambridge’s website.

“Events continue to move quickly and the picture is changing constantly. One of the most concerning features of the situation for everyone is that there is no clarity as to when it will end.

“We need to manage this on the basis that we have no football, or other commercial activity, until some point in the summer and quite possibly, sometime after that.”

On the financial package, Mather said: “This is welcome news but the amount we can access is relatively small and it is far from a complete answer to the financial problem we are facing.

“We are looking at ways of reducing our cost base and this will include making some extremely difficult decisions when it comes to our staff.”

Mather added that the club are considering selling season tickets for 2020-21 earlier than previously, and stressed the importance of supporters during the ongoing crisis.

Former Manchester United full-back and Salford co-owner Gary Neville fears football clubs could go out of business due to the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

There will be clubs all over this country, if they don’t get support quickly will have to make those decisions and may even go to the wall Gary Neville

Earlier this week, Scottish Premier League club Hearts announced that they were asking players and non-playing staff to take a 50 per cent pay cut, something Neville believes could become commonplace.

Speaking on The Debate on Sky Sports, Neville said: “It is unsurprising to me that clubs will be looking at their staff with a more social approach.

“A 50 per cent reduction in pay is something that will become the norm unless the government puts a package in place of support that gives people comfort. That needs to unfold quite quickly.

“It (coronavirus) is something that is completely unexpected. There will be clubs all over this country, if they don’t get support quickly will have to make those decisions and may even go to the wall.”

Neville believes clubs all the way through the professional football pyramid, including in the Premier League, would be hit financially if the season resumes behind closed doors.

Gary Neville, left, was speaking on Sky Sports
Gary Neville, left, was speaking on Sky Sports (Adam Davy/PA)

“If the Premier League were able to deliver it safely, get the broadcast revenue and so on, and wash that down towards the clubs that require it towards financial rescue, that might be something that the EFL may look at,” Neville added.

“But it will cause huge problems for some EFL clubs and National League clubs to not have the revenue from the remaining fixtures and other revenue streams that would exist from playing football this season.

“There will be clubs who have transfer fees due, there will be clubs who have fees due in instalments due from other years. We, as Salford City, will pay other clubs for our loan players, but we are not the standard example of a League Two club.

“There are clubs who just haven’t got the money to be able to pay it. Not just in the Football League but some clubs in the Premier League at this moment in time will be very worried, who need that revenue, who have spent that television money and need the 30,000 fans on a matchday.”

PA