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Barnet owner and former FA board member calls for Premier League to help lower-level clubs

00:10 GMT+4 18/03/2020
Premier League coronavirus composite
Around 60 employees from the National League side have been made redundant due to the crisis

Barnet owner Tony Kleanthous has called on the Football Association and Premier League to provide assistance to lower-level clubs amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Kleanthous, a former FA and Football League board member, has been forced to put all of the club’s non-playing staff on immediate notice of redundancy after the suspension of football in the country due to the pandemic .

The businessman, who has owned the National League side for 26 years, is urging the FA and Premier League to take action and offer aid to help lower-level clubs stay financially afloat.

Kleanthous says that while players’ contracts are protected and cannot be terminated, it is the general employees at the club that are most vulnerable. 

The 54-year-old has announced that 60 employees have been laid off due to the crisis, and wants more leadership from English football’s governing body.

“My head is spinning with it, to be honest,” Kleanthous told The Guardian . “I believe in doing these very difficult things properly and have had personal meetings with all the staff across the club and group to put them on notice.

“It has been really hard, a tough few days, since Friday, when the Premier League, EFL and Women’s Super League suspended their matches and we could see what was coming.

“Apart from the players who are under contract, everybody who works here is under notice.

“Footballers are protected in the game, but my sympathies in this crisis lie with the cleaners, the receptionists, the marketing guys straight out of college, the match-day stewards who will lose their money which keeps them going in the week. These are the people nobody thinks of.”

Kleanthous also called for the Premier League to set up financial assistance by contributing some of its income to clubs that are struggling to cope with the suspension of football until at least April 3.

“I’m not looking for a handout from the Premier League, but they have a duty to football,” he added.

“They have enjoyed their billions for many years, so maybe for one year they need to say they are not spending their money on massive players’ wages and are stepping in for football itself. What form that takes, I leave up to them.”