COLCHESTER United chairman Robbie Cowling is hoping the club's fans can pitch in with the club's attempts to deal with the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The future of EFL football is under serious threat due to the financial impact Covid-19 has had on clubs.

Colchester were hoping to welcome some fans back to the JobServe Community Stadium next month.

But their plans were scuppered following the Government's announcement that plans for spectators to return to sports venues from October 1 had been scrapped, due to a rise in coronavirus infections.

The EFL has warned it faces a £200million collective loss if spectators cannot return in the 2020-21 season.

Cowling this week announced that U's fans will be able to snap up a unique one-off shirt which the team will wear in their Essex derby with Southend Unted later this season by building up Loyal Supporter tokens.

Supporters can rack up the tokens through the purchase of iFollow streaming passes for the club's forthcoming games - which will bring the club badly-needed revenue.

In his statement on the U's website, Cowling said: "There’s lots of talk about the Government or the Premier League bailing the EFL out but I would like us to do everything we can to bail ourselves out.

"I appreciate that many of you are loyal supporters and won’t be able to get behind this particular scheme due to the impact that the pandemic has had on you, but any and all the support you give to the club is most welcome and much appreciated."

Clubs in the EFL and National League are preparing to cease playing and wind up their operations after the return of spectators was delayed, the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has been warned.

A letter co-signed by 17 individuals including former Football Association chairmen Greg Dyke and Lord Triesman and pundit Robbie Savage says help is urgently needed to ward off the threat of financial collapse.

Dowden has now been told that without some sort of rescue package, a number of clubs will be lost.

"Without any plans being made to rescue clubs, many in the EFL and others in the National League as well, are now actively preparing to make all but essential staff redundant, cease playing, close down their youth academies and community foundations, and put their business into administration," the letter warns.

"This could lead not only to the failure of many historic community clubs, but the collapse of the national league structure that we have known for over one hundred years. These are decisions that will be made in the coming weeks, with many clubs unable to meet their payroll obligations for next month."

The Government needed to set out what financial support it could offer, the letter said, because it was "not the sole responsibility" of the Premier League to bail out those lower down the pyramid.

It pointed out that Premier League clubs too "face swingeing losses from lost ticketing receipts and falling revenues from broadcasting matches".

The letter referenced the £1.5billion rescue package for the arts sector and added: "We would ask that the Government now make clear what financial support it's prepared to give before it is too late."

Dowden said on Sunday that the Premier League needed to "step up to the plate" to help clubs in the EFL and said he was hopeful of a deal being agreed this week.