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Paul Doswell: Reduce parachute payments to restructure football

Paul Doswell

FRUSTRATED: Fulham’s Ryan Babel against Bournemouth, but the Whites benefited from parachute payments following relegation which Paul Doswell is calling for to be reduced. Picture: PA Images

In his latest no-holds-barred article, experienced Non-League manager Paul Doswell gives his forthright opinion on football’s out-of-control finances – and says the game must grab the golden opportunity it has now to restructure…

Football needs to refinance and restructure itself. The biggest thing that should change – and it could benefit all of us from the top down to the National League – is they reduce parachute payments.

EFL chairman Rick Parry commented this week they are an “evil which needs to be eradicated”.

In his reasoning, Parry said there are six clubs in the Championship in receipt of parachute payments that give them an average of £40m per club. The rest of the clubs in the division get just £4.5m each.

How is it ever equitable for the other clubs trying to get into the Premier League? It makes them gamble.

The same ethos drives all the way down the Pyramid. It feels no different in the National League with the teams coming down from League Two. They’ve basically got a £750,000 head start on the rest of the division. The whole concept makes it unfair.

Let’s keep it simple. Say a relegated Premier League club gets just £20m. The rest of that amount could then be divided out as a percentage for clubs all the way down the leagues. Football wouldn’t be in the position it is now and on the brink of bankruptcy within six weeks.

The Premier League make a lot of their solidarity payments. At Havant & Waterlooville we received £8,500. That was the great gift from the Premier League. It’s not worth a jot.

The original idea behind parachute payments out of the Premier League was to help those relegated clubs with their huge wage bills when the revenue drops off a cliff. A simple way around that is if a club gets relegated, all the player contracts have a 50 per cent reduction in salary.

But because the players had all the power – and clubs are so desperate to sign them – they’re not prepared to put the necessary clauses in.

How can it be right the majority of half a billion pounds that comes out of the Premier League is spread out between about 11 clubs while the rest get chicken feed?

Parry comes out with some good ideas. But he’s running a bankrupt league. Most of the Championship clubs’ wages are more than 100 per cent of their turnover. In League One it’s about 90 per cent. You can’t run any business like that.

If the changes aren’t made, we will see club after club after club lost. It could even mean League One and League Two become part-time leagues.

No other country has the Pyramid like we do. In Germany, there’s Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 but below that is all amateur.

England has always had four professional leagues but, really, that is now five because the National League is as professional as League Two.

The only way clubs are going to get back to being viable is by cutting the wages. It’s going to happen across the board. It has to.

We are about to go into one of the worst recessions in history. Businesses won’t have spare money to put into sponsorship of shirts and boards. A lot of the chairmen who used to love putting some of their money into their football club will have to keep hold of it to save their businesses.

As I’ve already said, I’m totally in favour of a big reset – and this from a manager who had a good budget at Havant this year.

League One, League Two, the National League as well as the North and South should have a wage cap.

As an example, the maximum budget in the National League could be, say, £1m. Then in League Two it could be £1.5m.

It would level the playing field. It would stop the maniac owners because they wouldn’t be allowed to buy their way through the leagues as we have seen many times. It always leaves a trail of destruction when they get fed up and walk away.

This opportunity won’t last forever. The chance to restructure – and refinance – is here now.

This article was brought to you by The Non-League Paper, the UK's best-selling football title on the newsstand, on-sale every Sunday.
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