Premier League clubs must not forget EFL duty or League One and Two sides risk going under

The gap between the end of the last Premier League season and the start of a new one tomorrow has felt like the blink of an eye but has been long enough for £765million of transfer spending.

If the Manchester clubs secure the signings of Jadon Sancho and Kalidou Koulibaly, the billion pound mark is likely to be broken before the window closes next month. So much for a Covid-driven downturn.

The Premier League continues to dine out on champagne and caviar while much of the rest of the economy is on rations.

Maybe Mesut Ozil was right after all. Perhaps Mesut the mercenary was actually Ozil the oracle. Why should players accept pay cuts when their employers are still spending like lottery winners?

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The oligarchic willy-waving at Stamford Bridge has seen Chelsea top the Premier League outgoings table at £200m. Manchester City have cleared £70m with Tottenham just shy of £60m. But it isn’t just the big clubs who have been investing.

Everton and Aston Villa have gone beyond £40m while promoted Leeds are living the dream again at more than £60m.

The net spend across the league, even when you take into account player sales, is still north of £500m.

Project Restart, which prevented the Premier League to avoid paying back huge sums of money to their broadcast partners, has equipped the clubs to keep on buying.

But part of that arrangement with the government entailed bailing out clubs lower down the ladder who have been unable to avoid the coronavirus hit to the same degree.

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Those clubs are still waiting.

The £200m ‘solidarity payments’ Premier League chief executive Richard Masters referenced in midweek were due anyway regardless of any virus impact. No new money has found its way down the food chain.

The prospect of crowds returning to football – the financial lifeline of the game lower down the leagues – retreated this week with the lowering of attendance ceilings to 1,000 for pilot events.

The October 1 date for the turnstiles to spin again hangs in the balance.

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Masters is unable to give a timeframe on how long the smaller clubs will have to wait for the help they are due from his organisation. Until one EFL club goes out of business? Or two? Or three?

He stresses that while the league wants clubs to thrive all the way down the pyramid the Premier League has its own problems. Like how to sleep on a mattress forced up the ceiling by all the money tucked under it.

His view is that transfers add interest to the competition and it is hard to argue with him there.

Even if the biggest fish of all, Lionel Messi, got away there have still been some weighty catches.

Chelsea’s Bundesliga captures Timo Werner and Kai Havertz should be worth watching as should Donny van de Beek at Manchester United.

The success or otherwise of James Rodriguez at Everton will also be an interesting part of the season’s narrative.

Players like these do not come cheaply and the clubs will argue that they are simply paying the market rate for their services.

But if the Premier League really want to be good citizens as well as flash cash splashers they need to meet their moral obligations.

Unless more money is released and quickly, there is a very real chance of some towns losing their football clubs.

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Owen Farrell’s five-week ban for knocking Charlie Atkinson unconscious would have been ten but for the various dispensations applied to his case at his RFU disciplinary hearing. These included the charity work the England captain does off the field.

Farrell’s charitable nature or otherwise has no relevance to the dangerous tackle.

His suspension – and that of any other player – should be related to the act on the field not his work with Joining Jack, how he cares for his pets or how often he does the washing up off it.

Rugby union’s punishment system is missing the point. The time should fit the crime, not whether the perpetrator is an upstanding member of society.

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If Novak Djokovic finishes up one Grand Slam shy of Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal in the tennis history books he has only himself to blame.

Djokovic’s disqualification from a US Open which was his to win was entirely correct. Those apologists who fought the Serb’s corner ignored both the letter and the spirit of the rule book.

The line judge on the receiving end of his careless swat was not in mortal danger but clonking officials in the throat should never end well for a player no matter what his status.

Djokovic had to go.

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Jonty Rhodes, one the greatest fielder in the world, has now perfected the art of the curveball. He is joining Sweden as their national cricket coach.

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