Cardiff City chairman Mehmet Dalman believes nearly a third of Championship owners would sell up for £1 because of the coronavirus crisis.
Dalman believes the situation will only get worse for English football’s second tier because of mounting debts. He says they cannot sustain their huge spending and some face the prospect of going out of business.
It is a grim prediction from Dalman who has also warned it will be promotion or bust this season for Cardiff ’s next opponents Leeds, who are pinning all their hopes on getting into the Premier League.
Former investment banker Dalman, who helped broker the Glazers’ takeover of Manchester United, said: “I have spoken to seven clubs in the Championship who would be quite happy to sell up for £1.
"They’ve just run out. You can’t live with the cost base that’s coming.
“What’s going to happen to the game when you have a second wave of this virus? It’s not as if we will play out the season, get to August and all will be well. It won’t be.
“I’m really concerned about the game. Clubs have realised it will not be sustainable in the long term, they are looking at double digit losses, mid-table or fighting against relegation for two or three years.
"Every year losing £10m isn’t very appealing.
“It will be a travesty if Leeds don’t get the opportunity to go up. They’ve deserved it. They’ve made a huge investment, they’re almost there and if we suddenly stop then that’s unfair.
"But if they don’t go up then they will have some serious financial restructuring to do."
He added: “Clubs are bleeding, particularly in the Championship. I think the decision to finish the season is right. We can’t put so much work and effort in and then be denied the chance of promotion – ourselves included because we’re two points off the play-offs.
“But I think there needs to be a reset – and my fear is there won’t be. People will try to ignore it and go back to normality. But the reality is you won’t be able to do that or the damage at these Championship clubs will be irreversible.
“Clubs will have to bring in more capital, they will have to sell or they will fold. It’s one of those three things.”
Dalman has been at Cardiff for nearly seven years, and has overseen incredible change during his tenure as they have gone up and been relegated from the Premier League and are now still in with a shout of the play-offs.
The former Crystal Palace triallist, who became an elite investment banker, knows the game inside out but also has a passion for football which means that, while Cardiff is run responsibly, he fears for other clubs and their financial futures without any support from the Premier League.
Dalman added: “Outside of the Premier League, nothing gets filtered down. They are sitting on £1.5billion cash and yet how much of that money goes into the Championship, League One and Two?
“Why is the Premier League so exciting? It’s because we have promotion and relegation to and from the Championship, so of course the EFL plays a part. We need a healthy league.
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“Everyone has got to go from chasing rainbows in the Championship, trying to get into the Premier League to producing your own players through the academy, selling them to survive and following the French model to be creative rather than spending tonnes of money to get promoted.
“Someone asked me: ‘What sort of budget will Cardiff have for this summer’s window?’ I actually think the question should be: ‘How many players are we going to let go?’ Football is going through its worst crisis, certainly since the Second World War.
“But I don’t believe we will learn the lesson from the current crisis and predicament that we are in. That’s the really sad part.”
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