Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has backed calls for the Premier League to provide financial support to clubs outside the top flight after the reopening of stadiums to fans was pushed back.
A recent spike in coronavirus cases meant the planned return of spectators on a socially-distanced basis from October 1 has been halted, and without ticket sales and corporate hospitality to fall back on there is a concern some lower league clubs could go bust without help.
Wilder has an insight into the hardships some lower league clubs may soon face following his time at Northampton, where he went several weeks without receiving any wages as the club were hit with a winding up order over an unpaid tax bill in 2015.
Wilder lamented Bury’s expulsion from the Football League last year, a situation he hopes can be avoided in the next few months.
He said: “I do sympathise with the clubs outside the Premier League because they rely on supporters coming through the door.
“From a business point of view they’ve taken huge hits and hopefully everybody will come through it, but there has to be a concern about what’s going off at the moment.
“Nobody wants any club to go by the wayside, we’ve talked about it far too many times already recently with Bury and other clubs. Bury are a club with over 100 years of history and have gone in a heartbeat through mismanagement.
“Regardless of what the administrators of the Premier League do, it will be decided by the Premier League clubs.
“If anything can be done by the Premier League and they make a decision collectively, if they make a decision to help then we would.”
Wilder recognises the wider importance of football in communities, not just among professional clubs but lower down the pyramid as well.
He added: “We’re extremely proud of all the clubs that are strong and keep the area going, and what football plays in this part of the world is huge.
“We’re not a one-club city and we’re not a two or three-club area, football is a huge part of life in South Yorkshire and it has to be protected in my opinion.”