English Football League chairman Rick Parry has called into question the structure of professional football as a business.
Parry defended Championship club Wigan Athletic, whose owners have been forced to put the club into administration as a result of the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
The chairman said that a system that effectively requires owners to pump millions of pounds into a team just to keep them from tumbling into obscurity was untenable and needed to be examined going forward.
Parry insisted that the issues surrounding Wigan are likely to affect other clubs and have little to do with how well-run the organisation has been.
“They are really about, why do we need owners who, in the case of the Championship, need to put in £16million a year to be competitive.”
Parry warned that it could reach a point where ownership of professional clubs outside of the top flight might become so unattractive that prospective owners would be frightened away.
“The whole structure of the industry is unstable, Championship clubs spending 107 per cent of turnover on wages, £440million of owner funding,” Parry added.
“It is not sustainable, it doesn’t make sense, and there will be an ever diminishing queue of owners who are either able or indeed willing to do that.”
Parry said that the EFL would work closely with the administrators who have stepped in at Wigan to ensure the club survives its current crisis, which has seen them furlough most back-office and matchday staff.
The revelation that a popular, and by all accounts, well-run club like Wigan had gone into administration has sent shockwaves through football.
“We will continue to work closely with administrators because they obviously have a responsibility and a desire to investigate and find out exactly what’s gone on,” the EFL chairman maintained.
“So, we are not in competition with them, we have a common interest in trying to find out what the real story is.
“The absolute priority from our point of view is to save the club. We want to see football continuing in Wigan. It has been a horrible time for the fans, the players, the staff, the town of Wigan, and we all need to come together to find a solution that has to be the top priority.”
Parry was put on the spot by a fan who secretly filmed him discussing Wigan’s administration this week, but says he doesn’t regret engaging supporters.
“Do I regret not asking him if he was secretly filming on my property? Yes probably with hindsight but you don’t expect it so, you know. I’m not going to stop being natural and talking to fans, but you just hope it is not abused.”