Chris Wilder is concerned about the effect coronavirus could have on lower league clubs

Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has admitted he fears some clubs could be plunged into financial crisis after a decision was taken to postpone competition in England’s leading four divisions because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Saturday, 14th March 2020, 8:00 am

Although Premier League broadcasting payments have effectively insured the country’s leading names against any difficulties caused, Wilder is concerned teams lower down the pyramid could face potentially disastrous consequences if they are stripped of matchday revenues.

Wilder, who started his coaching career with Alfreton before spells with Halifax, Oxford and Northampton Town, cited a recent interview with Gary Neville, the former Manchester United defender turned Salford City co-owner, which outlined the issues facing some League One and League Two sides.

“One thing I really admire about Gary is that he gets his hands dirty at every level. Now he’s involved with Salford.

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“He knows the game better than anybody, inside and out. I saw an article with him and the impact is not worth thinking about; sponsorship, buying a pie and a programme. It will have a huge impact, most certainly, in the lower leagues.”

Acknowledging the situation could also cause problems for local businesses, Wilder added: “It will impact upon the pubs and people talk about Sheffield as a city, how much it’s been boosted financially as a city, with having Premier League football. But other people will be able to answer that better than I can.”

United were finalising preparations for today’s visit to Newcastle when they discovered representatives of PL member clubs, including their own chief executive Steve Bettis, had unanimously voted to suspend all fixtures until at least April 4 during an emergency meeting yesterday morning.

That was convened when Mikel Arteta, whose Arsenal side had been scheduled to face United in the FA Cup quarter-finals next weekend, was suffering from coronavirus.

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder speaking during his weekly press conference at the Steelphalt Academy, Sheffield: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

“Our London Colney training centre has been closed after head coach Mikel Arteta received a positive Covid-19 result,” a statement, issued by the Londoners, said. “Arsenal personnel who had recent close contact with mikel will now self-isolate in line with government health guidelines.”