Browse all

How will football clubs perform post-coronavirus?

Downhill player prices, exchange offers and advantageous acquisitions

How will football clubs perform post-coronavirus? Downhill player prices, exchange offers and advantageous acquisitions

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the biggest crisis professional football has ever faced, but the fact that most leagues cannot end is just the beginning of a long process of returning to normal. In the last week, the federal football bodies of half of Europe have started to take definitive positions regarding the results of the current season, such as the Liga and Serie A teams that will start training again in May or like the French championship which, instead has already been declared concluded.

It is very likely that a ''normal'' football, with full stadiums and no access restriction, will be available again only when a vaccine is available which, according to the statements of Sandra Zampa, undersecretary of the Ministry of Health of Italy, is estimated to be far 18 months from availability, which suggests that next season could also be played behind closed doors.

But if the fans and sponsors, who are the driving force of the world's most famous sport, find themselves in an even more critical condition - with companies that don't want to renew their contracts and jobless fans who can no longer afford to pay stadium and pay-TV season tickets - how will clubs survive?

According to ESPN's Simon Kuper, the clubs that are most at risk of failure are the teams that participate in minor leagues, that is, those that make income with the revenues of each championship day through the number of paying spectators and the sale of merchandising. On the other hand, it is obviously more difficult to reason in these terms with regard to the big clubs that, first of all, earn billions through TV contracts.

Yet most clubs, despite filing for bankruptcy, have always survived bankruptcy, either because they are saved by the local government or because they are bought from a new property. British clubs often use a method called "phoenix trick": the club's owning company is allowed to fail, and the new owners create a new company and put the old club into it so that it can be reborn from its ashes, just like a phoenix .

If on the one hand some ''old'' properties are unable to bear the maintenance costs, on the other there are countries like ours or England, where even a nullatenente can take over a club and we are likely to assist to a series of changes of ownership as already happened in the case of Newcastle, acquired by an Arab fund for 300 million pounds. In other countries such as Germany and France, it is likely that the government will go to the aid of companies, assuming that an effort will also have to be made by the protagonists of this huge movement: the players. Assuming that we are talking about a privileged category - where perhaps not all of them are millionaires, but they are still significantly richer than most of the population -, at a time when millions of people are losing their jobs, the clubs are will find themselves leveraging public opinion to put in the spotlight - negative - all those players who claim to be paid up to the last Euro.

Clubs close to bankruptcy will be forced to sell their best players at bargain prices, a clear opportunity for those few clubs who can still afford to get their hands on their wallets. The cases of Ajax and Chelsea, which were forbidden to participate in the transfer market last year, are absurd, and they are involuntarily ''beneficiaries'' of this situation: in fact they have a lot of money to spend on a moment when the value of the players is collapsing.

Another situation that could arise could be a total blockade of the coffers by the companies, replaced by a series of exchanges of players: a natural situation that would arise when, on the one hand, the clubs do not want to sell players at prices ragged and, on the other, potential buyers will not be able to afford to buy. One of the examples we are already talking about is that of Barcelona, ​​which for years has been craving the return of Neymar, but which, not being able to afford an expense of 200 million, could only exchange it with several stars currently in the Blaugrana. There will also be more loans, due to the fact that a club in difficulty will want to take off the salary of an expensive player and then take it back in the following season, only once its economy has started to turn again. It is also clear that any club that is able to survive this crisis will avoid changing its squad in order to monetize; this is the case of Kylian Mbappé, promised spouse of Real Madrid, who in all probability will remain in Paris for at least another year.

How football will emerge from this pandemic is difficult to predict but, according to the numbers, the moment of crisis start was also the highest point of revenues in the history of football: in fact, according to the company consultancy Deloitte, the revenues of European football clubs in the 2017-18 season they were 28.4 billion Euros and last season they also increased. This suggests that, despite the bad moment that the whole world is going through, football will be one of those industries that will suffer less from the Coronavirus effect. But regardless, let's remember that there are more important problems today.