Portsmouth chief Mark Catlin tells Premier League and government to end ‘Punch and Judy’ show and agree rescue package

An EFL chief executive has called on the Government and the Premier League to “stop acting in a Punch and Judy fashion” over the rescue package for lower-league clubs.

Portsmouth boss Mark Catlin insists the two must work together to reach a solution, but said it was wrong for all the responsibility to lay on the Premier League.

Catlin said his club has lost £700,000 a month for the last seven months due to the coronavirus pandemic and is facing a further bleak period ahead after the Government delayed the return of spectators to sports venues.

The Government has insisted the Premier League should put together an EFL rescue package, while the top-flight clubs point out they have already suffered losses as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

“The Premier League and the Government need to stop acting in a Punch and Judy fashion with each other over helping out clubs in the lower tiers,” Catlin told the Press Association.

“It’s unfair to keep hammering the Premier League for not bailing out clubs when they already do help clubs via solidarity payments and various other payments that they make to the EFL, so I think it’s unfair to put the blame with them.”

Eyebrows have been raised at Premier League clubs spending well over £1billion in the summer transfer market, but Catlin has no issue with that.

“But the reality is (the money) gets passed down anyway – it’s the ecosystem of football.

“If a player gets sold for £50million there’s shock horror in the media – but what they don’t realise is that money then trickles down through the pyramid.

“The club that receives the £50m goes and spends £40m on three or four other players, they go and spend more money that gets spent down through the leagues, there are sell-ons, add-ons.

“It’s pretty rich from the Government when all the time they’re taking money off of it via VAT payments at 20 per cent, even during lockdown when we had no ability to generate any revenue.”

“I want players to be earning as much as they can. You know why? Fifty per cent of it plus goes back to the Government to help support our general economy. The money that’s left, he goes out, he buys cars, houses, he buys furniture, he eats out at restaurants – feeding the economy.”

Catlin added: “Do I think the Premier League should be a part of this (rescue package)? One hundred per cent yes. But do I think the Government should get off scot-free? No.

“Has anyone ever gone to the supermarkets to help out the corner shops? No, it doesn’t happen. So why is there an expectation in our industry that the Premier League should help out the lower leagues?”

Clubs are pushing for the return of fans after writing a joint-letter to the government(Getty)

The EFL joined forces with the Premier League and the Football Association on Tuesday to issue a fresh call to the Government to provide “clarity” over the conditions necessary to allow fans back into grounds.

Catlin said: “All we’ve asked for is to get supporters back into grounds safely and securely.

“We believe we can do it, it’s happening in other industries, why is there a block on football? We’re not even there with a begging bowl asking for help financially, we’re just asking to allow our supporters back into grounds.”

He said his club would have been limited to a capacity of 5,000 under the Sports Grounds Safety Authority guidelines, which would still have meant huge losses but would “at least create an environment where we’re trying to get the wheels turning”.

“At the moment there’s just a blunt tool – supporters are not allowed in,” he said.

“I go back to the inconsistencies – why is it safe to allow crowds at non-league grounds? There’s enough uncertainty around at the moment without our own Government adding to it.”



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