(Reuters) - The Premier League has reached an agreement with the English Football League (EFL) to provide a 250 million pounds ($336.13 million) bailout package for lower division clubs struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Club finances have been hit hard since the pandemic barred fans from entering stadiums, with many at the risk of going out of business.
The agreement, approved at a shareholders' meeting on Thursday, will see the second-tier Championship receive an interest-free 200 million pounds loan while third-tier League One and fourth tier League Two clubs have been awarded a 50 million pounds grant.
"Our over-arching aim throughout this process has been to ensure that all EFL clubs survive the financial impact of the pandemic," EFL chair Rick Parry said.
"I'm pleased that we have now reached a resolution on behalf of our clubs and as we have maintained throughout this will provide much needed support and clarity following months of uncertainty."
The government's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) secretary Oliver Dowden welcomed the deal months after he urged the top flight to step up and provide financial support to the lower league clubs.
"I'm glad that football has come together to agree this substantial package. Fans are starting to return and we look forward to building on this as soon as it's safe," Dowden said.
"With a 250 million pounds support package for men's elite football and 300 million pounds government funding for women's football, the National League and other major spectator sports we have fuel in the tank to get clubs and sports through this."
Fans have been allowed to return to stadiums this week in limited numbers for the first time since March, with the government allowing up to 4,000 spectators at outdoor elite sports events in the lowest-risk medium alert areas of England.
($1 = 0.7438 pounds)
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)