UK Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Oliver Dowden, is hopeful the Premier League will strike a deal with the English Football League (EFL) to help its clubs weather the football crisis. coronavirus within a week.
The EFL say their 72 clubs stand to lose £200m ($257m) this season without crowds, having already lost £50m ($64m) in the 2019/20 campaign.
There are fears that without crowds some EFL clubs will die out.
Dowden told the BBC: “The Premier League are working closely with the EFL to see how they can support them. They are having productive conversations and I hope they reach an agreement this week.
“I have spoken with the Premier League and have been very clear that we expect the Premier League to support the EFL.”
Dowden previously told Sky News that the UK government is ready to support EFL clubs “because they are such an important part of our local community”.
He said: “We all agree the Premier League needs to step in and they are having intensive discussions with the EFL about how they can support these clubs.”
Governing bodies for various sports have spoken out since Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on September 22 that the planned reintroduction of spectators to sports venues from October 1 had been scrapped due to fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections.
The Premier League will meet on September 29 to discuss the way forward now that the UK government has effectively barred any fans from attending games until March.
Speaking to Sky, Dowden added: “The direction is clear, we understand the Premier League have to play their part.
“I am in close consultation with them and hope they are able to come to an agreement and provide that level of support.”
Asked if the crowds will return by the end of the season, Dowden replied: “I would desperately like that to happen and we are constantly monitoring the situation.
“We are also looking at the use of new technologies, working with the clubs who have done a fantastic job so far.
“If everything is possible, of course I would like that to happen, but, in this rapidly changing situation with the virus, we just have to exercise a little caution, which we did compared to the 1st october.
“Most people would agree that in this context of rapidly increasing cases, now is not the time to bring the crowds back.”
Dale Vince, owner of League Two club Forest Green, criticized the government’s decision to delay the return of spectators and said football was treated differently to other parts of society.
“Look walking down the high street, entering a shop, pub or schools,” Vince said.
“Watch how those environments are controlled, and then watch how football is controlled.
“We held a pilot game last Saturday. You have temperature screening at the door, masks are mandatory, you are outside and well spaced out. It’s actually the safest environment to be in right now.
Shadow culture secretary Jo Stevens has said the future of lower league clubs can only be safeguarded if the government provides targeted support.
She said: “A one-size-fits-all approach does not work and that is why the announcement of the [UK] chancellor [Rishi Sunak] this week has been so disappointing.
“The Premier League have actually said they are ready to help. As Labor we are ready to help the government come up with a plan to see what they can do for sport.
“It just doesn’t affect football. It affects rugby, cricket and all kinds of sports, and if we are to see them survive in six months, there needs to be clear, focused support and a plan now.
UK sports minister hopes Premier League to reach Covid-19 rescue deal with EFL within a week