EFL clubs would consider lunchtime kick-offs to tackle growing cost-of-living crisis

Lunchtime kick-offs for weekend league and FA Cup matches would be considered by clubs in the EFL and the wider football pyramid to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, a new survey has found.

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

The Government has pledged to support businesses with rising energy costs, but it is unclear whether this will benefit football clubs or how long any support will last, and concern about the cost-of-living crisis among clubs outside the Premier League remains high.

Overall, clubs rated their concern about 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 ground improvement work as a result of the crisis, while 38 per cent are preparing to look at their non-playing staff budgets.

The survey'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 off by the 20 clubs when they gather for a shareholders' meeting in London on Wednesday. The plan is understood to include a new system of merit-based payments to Championship clubs and changes to parachute payments.

Changes to the domestic calendar from 2024 also form part of the 'New Deal' discussions, and Premier League clubs are understood to be largely in agreement on the idea of wanting to ditch FA Cup third and fourth-round replays, which have historically been an important source of income for lower-league clubs.

Fair Game chief executive Niall Couper said the survey results 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.

"Having survived the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis could well be the death knell for the hard-working community clubs lower down the pyramid.

"Lower-league football clubs are the heartbeat of their communities, but right now they are in intensive care.

"The Premier League are at best going to offer a sticking plaster. They have had decades to address the problem and they should stand aside."

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