Premier League football clubs urged to help fan foodbanks

Football bosses are still unsure whether the on-hold league will be completed but Big Issue Changemaker Fans Supporting Foodbanks wants the mega-rich clubs to help hard-up fans

The coronavirus may have brought elite football to a halt but, with the fate of the Premier League still in the balance, fans in Liverpool have more important matters on their mind.

Liverpool Football Club and their fans still don’t know if they will get a chance to complete their fixtures and, almost definitely, secure a first league title in 30 years after football bosses discussed how to proceed at an emergency meeting today. Following the meeting, it was decided to extend the postponement of all professional football from April 3 to April 30.

But despite the historic sporting achievement on offer, Big Issue Changemaker Fans Supporting Foodbanks (FSF), a partnership of Liverpool and Everton fans supporting the most vulnerable on Merseyside, are focused on asking clubs to focus on supporting fans. They penned an open letter to clubs pleading with them to lift the burden on supporters hit by COVID-19.

Solidarity with our comrades at City & United from the Scouse Nation.#FeedTheScousers#FeedTheMancs#FeedUsAll#HungerDoesntWearClubColours

Posted by Fans Supporting Foodbanks on Wednesday, March 18, 2020

With four Anfield home fixtures called off before the end of the season, the matchday collections at the core of their operation are on hold, so FSF set up a fundraiser at the weekend, raising almost £60,000 so far. That has been topped up with a £40,000 donation from the LFC Foundation, Liverpool FC’s charitable arm, and FSF want other clubs to follow suit.

FSF have asked clubs to “follow the example of Liverpool and provide immediate, direct emergency funding for food-banks in their region. To follow the example of Brighton and commit to paying all match day and other casual staff through all cancelled fixtures.

“The long-term ramifications of Covid-19 on football are still unknown, but the effects of the virus on wider society are beginning to unfold with foodbanks already bearing the brunt of what promises to be massive disruption to our communities.

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There are currently around 1,450 Big Issue sellers working hard on the streets each week.

“Add in the many people on ‘casual’ or zero-hours contracts which have been terminated due to the crisis and it is likely that a whole new wave of people will need the food-banks imminently in the absence of government action. Given that approximately 40 per cent of food parcels currently go to feed children, this is a disaster waiting to happen.”

Like FSF, fan foodbanks for Manchester United and Manchester City are also joining forces to help in need, whether they are reds, blues or ambivalent about the beautiful game.

Fellow Big Issue Changemaker NUFC Fans Foodbank have also stepped up their calls for donations, insisting that if every fan who would have attended a sell-out St James’ Park match gave £1 it would fund them through the next six months.

Newcastle United donated pies cooked for last weekend’s axed home fixture with Sheffield United to the Newcastle West End Foodbank, the busiest foodbank in the UK, while fellow Premier League outfit Aston Villa took a similar approach with homeless charities after all games were initially cancelled until April 3.

Image: Kelvin Stuttard