Several clubs in England’s top two football leagues have come under heavy scrutiny for claiming government handouts at a staggering rate of £40 million per year, according to reports.
ITV News have reported that clubs welcomed a total of at least £13 million in the first four months of the UK government’s job retention scheme in 2020.
MP Julian Knight, who is the chair of the select committee for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, slammed the football clubs, describing the figure as “a staggering sum for football clubs to claim from the public purse.“
The vast majority of claimants came from teams in the second-tier Championship, however, in December alone, Premier League outfits Leeds United and Newcastle United reportedly claimed between £100,000 and £250,000 each. The pair committed to spending of £95 million and £35 million respectively in the summer transfer window. Elsewhere, Burnley and Sheffield also claimed between £10,000 and £50,000 from the scheme each.
Knight said: “We on the Committee called out clubs for using government money to pay their non-playing staff while at the same time paying top wages to star players.
“We called for the Premier League to put a stop to it and for the Chancellor to impose a windfall-tax if clubs refused. The Premier League clearly has questions to answer and should be held accountable.”
In 2020, when the Covid pandemic threatened to bankrupt many lower league clubs, Knight called on the Premier League to help bail them out.
He said it would be “an absurdity” for the government to be asked to help the smaller clubs when England’s biggest football teams make so much in multi-billion-pound TV deals.
Eventually, the Premier League agreed a £250 million rescue package for football league clubs. However, only a fortnight ago, Chief Executive Richard Masters admitted the Premier League may record a £2 billion loss due to the pandemic.