LONDON — Manchester United and Manchester City are the latest Premier League clubs to spring into action to help their communities during the coronavirus pandemic, joining forces to donate 100,000 pounds ($117,000) to support local food banks.
Responding to an initiative already run by fans of both clubs, City and United will donate 50,000 pounds each to the Trussell Trust, a support network of more than 1,200 food banks.
"We are proud of the role our supporters play in helping local food banks and recognise the increased strain likely to be placed on these charities by the impact of coronavirus," a joint club statement said on Saturday.
"At a time of challenge for our community, we are pleased to come together with our fans to help vulnerable members of society in a City United."
The donations will help food banks compensate for the loss of food donations the clubs usually provide on match days. English soccer has been suspended until the end of April at the earliest due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Aston Villa distributed 1,000 packed lunches intended for matchday staff at their postponed game with Chelsea to local homeless organisations and sheltered accommodation units.
Newcastle United also donated 1,200 pies and a range of cold meats to a food bank after last weekend's postponed match.
Brighton and Hove Albion are ringing self-isolating elderly fans to offer support.
"We are a community club and it's a small but practical thing we can do to support people that mean a lot to us and who have been there for the club over many years," Brighton chief executive Paul Barber said.
Chelsea are allowing frontline medical staff to use their hotel at Stamford Bridge, while Burnley and Everton are supporting food banks and food delivery to vulnerable members of the community.
"We know there are going to be difficult times for people and their families with regards work and income," Burnley captain Ben Mee said.
Watford's 'Hornets At Home' was set up to provide assistance to elderly and disabled supporters during the crisis while West Ham United have donated toiletries and toilet rolls to a local homeless shelter.
West Ham captain Mark Noble has donated money he receives from a newspaper column to a local food bank.
"We need to help the elderly, the vulnerable and the sick of our society and help minimise the effects of this illness," Noble said.
"I can only try to imagine what it is like at the moment for an elderly person who lives on their own. We all need to chip in and help."
($1 = 0.8578 pounds)
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)