MANY clubs in the EFL and National League are preparing to stop playing and close down their operations, the government has been warned.

A letter co-signed by 17 people, including former FA chairmen Lord Triesman and Greg Dyke and Sunderland co-owner Charlie Methven, was this morning sent to culture secretary Oliver Dowden asking for emergency funding for sides outside the top flight.

Clubs had hoped to welcome some fans back to stadia from October, with Oxford United originally intending to allow 1,000 supporters in for Saturday's clash with Crewe Alexandra.

But this could now be six months away after last week's update to the coronavirus restrictions, meaning the U's and other clubs will lose out on matchday ticket sales - a significant source of income.

Oxford United MD: Rescue package needed for EFL clubs

United and other clubs have asked for a rescue package to help cope with a prolonged spell without gate receipts.

Mr Dowden told the BBC yesterday he was "hopeful" the Premier League would announce it would help lower-league clubs this week, but the letter urges the government to step in too.

The group writes: "Without any plans being made to rescue football clubs, many in the EFL and others in the National League as well, are now actively preparing to make all but essential staff redundant, cease playing, close down their youth academies and community foundations, and put their businesses into administration.

"This could lead not only to the failure of many historic community clubs, but the collapse of the national league structure that we have known for over 100 years.

"These are decisions that will be made in the coming weeks, with many clubs unable to meet their payroll obligations for next month.

"There is still time to act, but not long left."

The letter calls for a 'cultural recovery fund' for football, similar to the £1.5bn made available to arts and cultural organisations put at risk by the pandemic.

The group says clubs need to be compensated for the loss of matchday ticket sales as it results from policies 'put in place by the government in response to a public health emergency'.

They add: "It cannot be the Premier League's sole responsibility to sort out issues arising from government policy.

"The government itself needs to take responsibility or many already-embattled towns - often in areas of the country which have suffered many hardships in recent decades - will lose their last focal point."