Unless you’ve been on Mars recently and endured a fortnight’s quarantine upon returning home, you’ll have noticed that following a three month absence, Premier League football has resumed. It’s been difficult to avoid the full-on media oversell confected by the league’s public relations juggernaut beseeching us all to be thankful for football’s return. Despite a conspicuous lack of evidence, we’re told that the long-awaited return will give the whole nation a much-needed lift. Meanwhile, we’re informed that resumption was essential to ensure the competition’s ‘integrity’, a bit of a laugh, surely, considering the shady backgrounds of some club owners, many of whom believe that ethics is a county in southern England. Appropriately, perhaps, the problem of empty stadia has been circumvented by fake noise, while TV presenters beam with all the sincerity of game show hosts when reminding viewers just how great it is to have live sport back on our screens. The PR-inspired earnestness and fervour is, of course, nonsense; the principal reason underpinning Premier League football’s return is money. Collectively, Premier League clubs would lose a fortune if they failed in their legal obligation to fulfil their fixtures for the 2019-20 season, while the league could face potentially costly legal action from broadcasters if the remaining 92 matches were not played. Instead, Sky Sports, BT Sport and every Tom, Dick and Harry who owns broadcast rights to the league’s fixtures have started charging subscribers for the pleasure of watching matches contested in cavernous, atmosphere-free stadia and football clubs can resume the practice of handing over huge sums of money to a small group of highly-paid sporting executives, aka footballers. So the whole episode is a result for the league, broadcasters, clubs and their highest-earning employees, the latter in particular relishing the return to work and a resumption of full pay. Good luck to them, but the football industry’s good fortune is not mirrored across the land. According to a survey published by recruitment company Manpower, more than a sixth of companies are preparing to slash staff numbers over the next three months once the furlough scheme ends; only one in 20 firms expect to expand their workforce. Given the level of economic uncertainty and burgeoning number of people unable to work, it’s likely that many readers’ loved ones could be facing financial hardship. Our natural reaction in such circumstances is to assist wherever we can and with the help of equity release, most of the UK’s over-55 homeowners are in a position to do so. Releasing equity isn’t for everyone. Many people are in the fortunate position of being able to help children or grandchildren continue to meet their financial obligations, such as paying the mortgage or other bills that could be piling up, creating a mountain of red-inked demands. However, for older homeowners, equity release has been described as ‘hidden savings’ and, as is the case with regular savings, owners can spend or distribute them as they please. An increasing number of homeowners are releasing tax-free funds from their property in order to help out with loved ones’ housing, food and other expenses. In instances where children or grandchildren have been furloughed or face the prospect of being out of work by the end of the year, cash injections can act as welcome alternative income until prospects improve. Indeed, homeowners alert to the fact that the pandemic’s full economic impact is yet to be seen will recognise the merit of exploring how they may give their loved ones a helping hand. Releasing equity built up over many years in their property’s bricks and mortar enables homeowners to help their nearest and dearest in a variety of ways, but it’s a big decision, which is why seeking professional advice prior to taking the plunge is essential. A qualified equity release adviser can explain how the process works, assessing, for instance, the impact it could have upon the value of a homeowner’s estate or their entitlement to means-tested state benefits. These might not be concerns for millionaire Premier League footballers, but for people living in the real world, one where mountains of cash aren’t shovelled into their bank account every week, they’re worth noting – and acting upon. My thanks to the dozens of readers who contacted me over the past week with a variety of questions regarding equity release. Please keep them coming, but note I cannot advise on the suitability of equity release to individuals. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about equity release at www.moneymapp.com\/equity-releaseDrop Peter Sharkey a line! Such has been the response to our recent ‘Equity release: your questions’ feature that it has been expanded. Readers can now email Peter Sharkey (and his team of equity release experts) to ask any equity release-related questions. Contact Peter by emailing email@example.com As many readers have already discovered, there’s a wealth of information to be discovered at www.moneymapp.com\/equity-release. In addition, there are hundreds of blogs and articles dealing with the subject on the Moneymapp website, including Peter Sharkey’s weekly blog, rated among the UK’s very best. Read more at www.moneymapp.com\/blog You may still email any queries or questions regarding equity release to: firstname.lastname@example.org Please note that neither Moneymapp.com or Peter Sharkey can advise readers on whether equity release is suitable for them. However, both Moneymapp.com and Peter can introduce readers to professional advisers who will explain the process and its implications for your estate and entitlement to means-tested state benefits.For more financial advice, check out Peter Sharkey’s regular column, The Week In Numbers.