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Page last updated at 15:46 GMT, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 16:46 UK

Conference clubs handed windfall

Stevenage boss Graham Westley
Stevenage are hoping to build on their FA Trophy success in May

The Premier League has made a one-off £1m payment to help the 68 Conference football clubs cope with the current adverse economic conditions.

The Conference is still seeking another broadcaster after the demise of Irish company Setanta three months ago.

Several club chairmen expressed their relief and gratitude for the donation.

Premier League chief Richard Scudamore said: "The Conference is an integral part of the football pyramid. It was absolutely the right thing to do."

On top of the economic recession, the Conference leagues which include the Blue Square Premier, North and South, have had to deal with the collapse of Setanta in June this year.

The clubs had been two years into a five-year deal worth £2.5m with Blue Square Premier sides receiving a minimum of £70,000 a year and clubs in the North and South taking £15,000 each.

Scudamore said: "The Premier League clubs discussed the current financial difficulties facing their counterparts in the Conference and were happy to be in the position to help them out with some financial support."


He added that all 68 Conference clubs were "extremely important to local fans and communities".

Conference chairman Brian Lee, who helped to broker the deal, said: "We are extremely grateful to the Premier League in demonstrating their support to our members at a time when our clubs are feeling the pinch.

"Not only at the loss of our TV contract but the decline of anticipated income due to the financial position generally."

Despite the news on Wednesday that talks over a deal with ESPN to televise Blue Square Premier matches had broken down, the Football Conference remain committed to securing a broadcast partner.

Chairman Phil Wallace of Stevenage, currently riding high in third spot in the Blue Square Premier, was delighted with the cash hand-out, despite a few reservations.

"We lost around £100,000 from the collapse of Setanta and we should receive around £30,000 to £40,000 from this deal," he said.

"It doesn't make up for all the Setanta money - it makes everything a third easier. But I think everyone would agree that it's a massive step.

"Clubs would have really struggled because the noose was getting tighter and tighter but this will obviously really help clubs."

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see also
Conference fails to close TV deal
16 Sep 09 |  Non League
Setanta goes into administration
23 Jun 09 |  Business
Conference fears Setanta collapse
09 Jun 09 |  Non League

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