Rhyl FC collapses citing Covid-19 impact

27 April 2020 Consultancy.uk

Former Welsh Premier League champion Rhyl FC has commenced its winding up, having missed a self-imposed deadline to secure £175,000 of investment. A statement from the club said that the impact of Covid-19 had ultimately left it with no viable options to continue.

Due to the extremely contagious nature of the current Covid-19 pandemic, the international machinery of elite football has ground to a halt. Mass gatherings of tens of thousands of fervent fans in close proximity would have provided Covid-19 a veritable Petri dish of the most ideal conditions through which to survive and spread – while contrary to widely held beliefs, top level athletes often have weaker immune systems than the average person, as the periods of intensified training which they regularly endure have been shown to chronically depress immune function.

While it makes sense to have suspended football indefinitely for these reasons, however, the current hiatus of the sport has laid bare the crumbling financial structure at the heart of the beautiful game. As there is no new football to screen, many television companies are threatening to demand a reimbursement of their broadcast fees for the 2019/20 season; fees which a number of clubs have long spent. As a result, even the clubs at the highest level of football are currently sweating on the situation.

Rhyl FC collapses citing Covid-19 impact

Beyond the lofty revenues of England’s Premier League, meanwhile, the situation is even worse. Illustrating the potential threat to football in Britain posed by the current lock-down, Welsh club Rhyl FC are set to become the first footballing institution to close down as a result of financial pressures of the coronavirus pandemic. While Rhyl was part of the far less lucrative Welsh leagues, the club had previously enjoyed a storied 141-year existence.

The club was founded in 1878,  and despite currently playing in the second-tier Cymru North, Rhyl had won the Welsh Premier League title as recently as 2004 and 2009, earning a sought-after Champions League qualification spot in the process. The club had also won four Welsh Cup titles over its history, but that history may now come to an end, as the club has initiated the administration process, with directors citing the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Rhyl confirmed the club was offered support from the Football Association of Wales, but also that it would not be enough to save it. The club had recently stated it would need £175,000 of investment to offer long-term security, and after a self-imposed deadline passed with "no viable approach", a club statement confirmed that they had initiated the winding-up of the company.

A statement read, "The difficult decision was taken by the board of directors after considering the financial impact of the suspension of all football activities due to the unprecedented impact of Covid-19, the unwillingness of the ground's owner to consider either a long lease or sale on market terms and the on-going fixed costs with no income prospects.”

Chairman Paul Higginson meanwhile commented, "The town has a very proud footballing history and a very determined character and I have no doubt that a very strong new club will rise from this low."

While Welsh football is notably less well-funded, meaning its clubs may be the earliest victims of Covid-19, this does not suggest that English clubs will be insulated from the crisis. Many lower league sides in England have already been pushed to breaking point by the sudden absence of ticket and television revenues – prompting the English Football League to sanction a £50 million package to help clubs enduring immediate cash-flow problems from the suspension of matches because of the crisis.


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