CEO Jim Rodwell has again updated fans on his thoughts over the government plan to let football fans back into stadiums and what bailout packages are needed for Sunderland and other EFL clubs. Rodwell also spoke of how businesses which rely on football going ahead with fans are suffering too and they aren’t getting as much attention as they should be.
“We have no clarity on it whatsoever, its soul destroying for those people who worked so hard to put us in the position to potentially bring fans back. We, as football, are convinced that we can safely have fans in the stadium. We had pilot events that went incredibly well, we were ready and able before the rug was pulled from underneath us. I think the hardest thing to accept about that was the lack of rationale. You see things that are going on, full theatres, and we're just getting told for no real, apparent reason that we can't have fans. That's soul destroying. Oliver Dowden (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) was asked a direct question in front of a parliamentary committee about why we can have people in theatres and not a stadium, there was no answer. What really disappoints me is that the answers now seem to be quite flippant. Football doesn't seem to be important. The government says it is, but they don't demonstrate it. Sooner or later, football clubs will go bust. Without a bailout and without fans in the stadiums, that will happen. There will be red wall towns and when the football club goes, the ladies team goes, the academy goes, the foundation goes. The businesses that support the football club suffer. There just doesn't seem to be recognition of that. I just want someone to explain why that is. Project Big Picture was far from perfect but someone has to start somewhere and proposals generally start somewhere and end up in a different place, from what I'd seen, it was well worthy of consideration. If we are talking about a redistribution of wealth across the divisions to make football more sustainable, that makes perfect sense. If you look at the money EFL clubs are losing on an annual basis, then the model is broken and it doesn't need to be because there is plenty of money within football. It's too lopsided. What you need to do is cool the arms race in the Championship, where the goal of reaching the Premier League leads to huge losses. That was one element of it (doing away with parachute payments) I liked the look of. Clearly, there were imperfect things in there as well.”