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EFL clubs among those considering lunchtime kick-offs to help reduce energy bills

Lunchtime kick-offs being considered by EFL clubs and the wider football pyramid for league and FA Cup matches at the weekend to cut energy bills amid concerns over the cost of living crisis

  • A new study has shown that clubs would consider holding kick-offs at lunchtime
  • That would help reduce energy bills as the hours of daylight decrease over the winter
  • The change will help clubs tackle the current cost of living crisis
  • Clubs could also stop ground improvement work and look at other costs
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Lunchtime kick-offs for this weekend’s league and FA Cup games will be considered by clubs in the EFL and the wider football pyramid to tackle the cost of living crisis, a new study has found.

Sixty-three per cent of 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 energy bills as the hours of daylight decrease if they got permission.

The government has promised 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 about the cost of living crisis among non-Premier League clubs remain high.

A number of football clubs, including 12 unnamed EFL teams, would consider holding lunchtime kick-offs in league and FA Cup matches at the weekend to combat the cost of living crisis
A number of football clubs, including 12 unnamed EFL teams, would consider holding lunchtime kick-offs in league and FA Cup matches at the weekend to combat the cost of living crisis

A number of football clubs, including 12 unnamed EFL teams, would consider holding lunchtime kick-offs in league and FA Cup matches at the weekend to combat the cost of living crisis

That would help reduce energy bills as the hours of daylight decrease over the winter
That would help reduce energy bills as the hours of daylight decrease over the winter

That would help reduce energy bills as the hours of daylight decrease over the winter

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.

60 per cent of the 40 clubs are considering halting ground improvement work as a result of the crisis, while 38 per cent are preparing to look at their non-playing staff budgets.

The investigation’s publication comes as Premier League clubs prepare to hold further discussions 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 shareholder meeting in London on Wednesday. The plan is believed to include a new system of merit-based payments for Championship clubs and changes to parachute payments.

Changes to the domestic calendar from 2024 are also part of the ‘New Deal’ discussions, with Premier League clubs believed to be largely on board with the idea of ​​dropping the FA Cup in the third and fourth rounds, which has historically been a key source of income for lower league clubs.

Europe’s new club competitions will take up even more space in an already congested calendar from the 2024-2025 season, with a further 64 matches added to the Champions League and continental fixtures running into January for the first time.

Premier League clubs, meanwhile, are set to hold further discussions on a new financial distribution model to support the EFL and the rest of the football pyramid
Premier League clubs, meanwhile, are set to hold further discussions on a new financial distribution model to support the EFL and the rest of the football pyramid

Premier League clubs, meanwhile, are set to hold further discussions on a new financial distribution model to support the EFL and the rest of the football pyramid

It is believed that the top teams are less aligned with the future of the Carabao Cup.

It is understood the league’s ‘Big Six’ clubs are unanimously in favor of the idea of ​​allowing teams playing in Europe to either enter an Under-21 team in the Carabao Cup or not at all.

Other Premier League clubs also support this proposal, but there are concerns among some less regularly involved in Europe that the League Cup would be too devalued by such a move. Reducing the competition’s appeal would in turn impact on EFL revenues.

There is understood to be growing optimism among top clubs that plans for an independent regulator for football could be delayed, watered down or dropped altogether under the leadership of new prime minister Liz Truss.

Her predecessor Boris Johnson and former Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries were both supporters of the regulator but are now out of office, while Sports Secretary Nigel Huddleston’s future remains uncertain. He gave his public backing to Truss’s rival Rishi Sunak in the Tory leadership campaign.

Huddleston had warned the regulator would be given backstop powers to force a financial distribution settlement on the Premier League and EFL if they could not agree one themselves.

A white paper on the regulator had originally been due for the summer, but was initially delayed by the leadership contest, while government business has been put on hold during the period of national mourning following the Queen’s death.

But the future of that and other legislation is now up in the air.

Fair Game chief executive Niall Couper said the survey findings were a 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.

Premier League clubs hope the new deal will see third and fourth round FA Cup replays scrapped
Premier League clubs hope the new deal will see third and fourth round FA Cup replays scrapped

Premier League clubs hope the new deal will see third and fourth round FA Cup replays scrapped

‘Having survived the pandemic, the cost of living crisis may well be the death knell for the hard-working community clubs further down the pyramid.

‘Football clubs in the lower leagues are the heartbeat of their communities, but right now they are in intensive care.

‘The Premier League will at best offer a Band-Aid. They have had decades to solve the problem and they should stand aside.

“It is now up to the government to intervene. The recent fan-led review, set up by the Conservative Party, revealed the financial flow of the game and the governance behind it is broken.

‘Fair Game calls for action now. We were promised a level up, instead we could see the leveling of football stadiums across the country with decades of history and tradition wiped off the map.

‘The government needs to deliver on its promise of an independent regulator now. A regulator that can monitor football’s financial flow. Without it, the pyramid in our national game will crumble.’

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