Frank Lampard says he believes the Premier League will come to the aid of stricken EFL clubs, with the English game under ever greater strain from the coronavirus.
Insisting the big clubs “have a heart”, the Chelsea manager called for a “conversation” on financial support for the football pyramid and the grassroots game as the prospect of fans returning to matches became more distant because of rising infections.
Chelsea play Barnsley in the Carabao Cup third round on Wednesday night and Lampard confirmed his club had paid for the Championship side to test their players for Covid-19 before the match.
With Leyton Orient already forced to postpone their match against Tottenham because of multiple positive tests, and West Ham’s David Moyes testing positive just minutes before his side’s match with Hull on Tuesday, both sides are waiting for the results.
“In football if you are talking about how Premier League clubs can help those lower down in the leagues, we have paid for the tests for Barnsley,” Lampard said. “It’s a sign of a club in the Premier League doing the right thing.
“I think it’s important that the Premier League as a collective looks at supporting the EFL, the leagues below and grassroots football, absolutely.
“That’s the base of why we’re all here. I started and [a lot] of the young players started in Sunday league football. I’ve managed in the Championship. I understand a lot of the difficulties ... clubs are having, so I think there certainly can be a conversation.
“I can’t go too political because I don’t know enough about the numbers, but I do think clubs in the Premier League and the Premier League themselves have a heart. They understand [the situation] and I’m sure as we move forward they will be making positive moves on that front.”
Sean Dyche, however, offered a counterpoint to Lampard’s views. The Burnley manager, speaking before his side’s Carabao Cup tie at Millwall, questioned the precedent a bailout would set and argued for letting market forces decide the outcome.
“If the Premier League can do their bit to enhance the chance of other teams surviving, and when that is needed, possibly they’ll step in,” Dyche said. “But if you are going to apply that rule of thumb, does that mean every hedge fund manager that is incredibly successful, are they going to filter that down to the hedge fund managers that are not so successful?
“There’s lots of different businesses out there making huge sums of money that could therefore protect similar lines of business but lower down. If you are going to apply it to football, I think you have to apply it across the country to everyone and every business.”