Paul Barber has spelt out why the Premier League should not – and cannot – give handouts to stricken lower-division clubs.

Albion’s vice-chairman and chief executive says bailing out a club like Bury, who went out of the EFL recently, would be unfair on well-run rivals and would encourage excessive risk-taking.

He has also pointed out the Premier League does more than any top-flight divisions in other countries to help smaller clubs.

Barber represents the Premier League on the FA Council and Professional Game Board.

He said a number of Albion fans had written to him about financial problems which led to Bury's demise and a major scare over the future of Bolton Wanderers.

In the match programme for Burnley’s visit, Barber wrote: “It’s truly awful to see football clubs in such difficulty and the financial and human impact on their players, staff, fans and wider communities shouldn’t be under-estimated.

“Football clubs, like Bury and Bolton and indeed this one, are often a key part of their respective communities and they mean so much to so many people.

“However, as devastating as the loss or potential loss of a professional football club is, I do not see a case for Premier League clubs donating funds to clubs in difficulty as has been suggested by some fans, and also by some journalists, pundits and politicians – and, from a club that knows only too well the perils of potentially losing everything we cherish, this view is certainly not a case of ‘we’re alright Jack’ now that we are in the Premier League.

“First of all, the current rules don’t allow clubs to provide direct financial assistance to other clubs.

“Such interventions would disadvantage other clubs in the same division who are being well run and, in any case, such a move is hardly likely to encourage clubs to live within their means if a get-out-of-jail-free card is so readily available.

“As significantly, but not really known or appreciated by many, the Premier League is already distributing close to £350 million in payments to EFL clubs through parachute payments and its solidarity programme while also contributing a further £50 million to those same 72 clubs with additional support to their various community programmes, coaching schemes and academies.

“Indeed, the Premier League’s commitment to supporting the sustainability of smaller or less well-off clubs up and down the country is bigger than that of any other top-flight league anywhere.

“Despite some of the rhetoric to the contrary, this system has been in place for many years and the Premier League is committed to providing such support for the long-term.

The Argus:

Paul Barber

“In the case of Bury, this type of financial support accounted for around 25% of the club’s annual turnover so the Premier League has already provided significant help.

“For any club to prosper at any level, it is absolutely vital they have responsible and committed owners, experienced and strong executive management and, as much as it may grate with fans on occasions, clubs must be run as businesses.”