Gary Johnson’s ‘pay up’ plea to Premier League and Government

Gary Johnson, manager of Torquay United. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Gary Johnson, manager of Torquay United. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK - Credit: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Torquay United manager Gary Johnson says the Vanarama National League should start on schedule, and a combination of the Government and the Premier League should cover revenue lost through no crowds at matches.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Tuesday that the planned limited return of fans to grounds is being halted, possibly for six months, in the face of a ‘spike’ in Covid-19 virus cases.

The bombshell news has raised fears over whether the National League will kick off on Saturday week, October 3, and even if some lower division clubs will survive.

Torquay’s Johnson confirmed that United are still preparing to play their final pre-season game, behind-closed-doors at Bath City this Saturday, and then the NL opener against Stockport County at Plainmoor seven days later.

He stressed: “If we have to carry on playing games without any fans, we should be doing that, ‘streaming’ them on our live TV, and any shortfall in our revenue should be made up by the Government and the Premier League.

“There is a danger that the National League will be left out in the cold, but that should not happen.

“We are a professional league, just like the Premier League and the EFL.

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“We are important to the whole structure of the game, because of promotion and relegation with the EFL, and our clubs employ thousands of people.

“Everyone is waiting and hoping for some better news, but at the moment we at Torquay United are carrying on.”

Johnson added: “Everyone at Plainmoor says thanks to all the fans who have been sending us messages of support - they have been fantastic, as always.

“We hope we can give them something to watch in the weeks to come, even if it is only on TV.”

United, who have sold hundreds of 2020-2021 season-tickets, have been readying Plainmoor for the return of limited crowds.

They have even painted ‘socially distanced’ footprints on the terraces to be filled by members of the ‘Yellow Army’.

But for the foreseeable future, it looks as if those footprints will have to remain just that.