The Economic Impact of Coronavirus on Football


FOOTBALL is the people’s game and its wealth,
sustainability and support are all underpinned by the mass gathering of spectators. Without
the fans, the game cannot exist and, even in this digital age, the value proposition
of football is its broad global appeal, making it attractive to investors, benefactors, the
media, sponsors and advertisers. When something disrupts the routine of the
world’s most popular sport, the impact goes way beyond supporters being disorientated.
The Corona Virus, or Covid-19, has stopped football in its tracks, jeopardising the eco-system
that feeds thousands of clubs, players and peripheral businesses. The disruption may be temporary, but as well
as domestic league and cup programmes and continental club competitions, the enforced
suspension and ongoing uncertainty has forced the postponement of the European Championship
and possibly also the Olympic Games. The longer-term health of some football clubs could also be
compromised. It is not just a question of clubs not finishing
their season, because football as an industry provides income for many people not necessarily
working within the game. Local shops, restaurants and bars have grown-up around clubs’ home
grounds and have become accustomed to profitable footfall on matchdays. Furthermore, broadcasters have effectively
fuelled the dramatic growth of football with vast sums of money being paid for TV rights.
With games, at the crucial end of the 2019-20 season now suspended until further notice,
the prospect of falling subscribers, viewers and advertisers is very real. Should normal
services not be resumed, there may be a push to renegotiate broadcasting fees and the knock-on
effect for future seasons may bring to an end the cycle of ever-increasing rights fees. This, in turn, may lead to lower wages for
players and, with clubs’ revenue also impacted, increased admission prices. The virus, which
has already triggered high volatility in financial markets, could be the catalyst for a transformational
period for the game. Will the loss of matchdays for a couple of
months seriously damage top level football? La Liga has suggested that the disruption
will cost around € 700 million, while in Italy, predictions range from € 700 million
to € 1 billion. The Bundesliga could lose around € 800 million. In England, some clubs
have suggested the virus could cost them as much as £ 40 million. At the top, many Premier League clubs were
in profit in 2018-19 and their revenue streams are diverse and robust. But if club owners
run into difficulties, as some have in the past, then the financial stability of some
clubs will be questioned, especially if owners don’t inject cash into a struggling business
model. Moreover, with the Coronavirus originating
in China, where economic growth is slowing, the longer-term outlook is cloudy given there
is a sizeable Chinese presence among club owners. The average wage-to-income ratio in the Premier
League is just over 50%, which means they are not paying-out everything they earn. However,
the Football League is a different story, with many clubs paying wages that exceed their
revenues. This makes them highly vulnerable in the event of a cashflow problem. Although it is not out of the question that
broadcasters may seek an adjustment to their deals, the most direct impact on many clubs
will be the drying-up of matchday revenues. It should be remembered, though, that season
ticket sales are high at many clubs, therefore income has already been received from fans. Manchester United, for example have 52,000
season ticket holders, while Arsenal have 45,000. Lower down, a club like Nottingham
Forest sells around 20,000 season tickets, which is 70%+ of their average crowd). Further
down, in League Two, Plymouth sold 2,300 for 2019-20, which represents around 20% of the
club’s average crowd. The figures vary greatly across the spectrum. Matchday income for smaller clubs represents
a larger share of overall income than it does for Premier League clubs. It can amount to
more than 30% for a League Two club, while higher up the food chain, the percentage for
a club that has recently been in the Premier League, and is therefore boosted by “parachute
payments”, could be below 20%. In the Premier League, the average for the so-called “big
six” is around 17%. Manchester United has the highest income from
matchday, more than £ 100 million, while Arsenal has the biggest reliance on matchday
revenues among the group, with their £ 96 million accounting for 25% of their overall
total in 2018-19. Lower division clubs, who do not benefit from
high broadcasting fees or global sponsorship, are more reliant on community backing and
smaller businesses which will undoubtedly suffer through the crisis. Hence, the effect
on smaller clubs might be two-pronged, missing matchday income and troubled sponsors. The crisis will, undoubtedly, highlight the
huge imbalances in football – for instance, Crewe Alexandra, in 2018-19, generated income
of £ 3.2 million while, not too far away, Manchester United earned £ 602 million. Naturally,
the smaller clubs are far more exposed and some have little margin for error. The story of Bury demonstrated clubs can fall
into the abyss and in recent months, there have been concerns about the financial health
of Morecambe, Macclesfield Town, Bolton Wanderers and Oldham Athletic. If there is a liquidity
crisis in English football, then clubs that have been on the brink of disaster could be
pushed into bankruptcy, or at the very least, administration. Similarly, the transfer market could also
seize up, which would be a major blow to clubs that rely on player trading to balance their
books. It is not inconceivable there will be casualties in the form of failed clubs,
player redundancies and debt defaults at the lower end of the footballing food chain. If nothing else, this crisis should prompt
a proper reassessment of the financial state of English and indeed, European football.
The game is awash with cash, yet too many clubs are a missed pay day away from disaster.
Better provisioning for adverse trading conditions – and not just relegation to a lower division
– and a more realistic wage structure must surely be under consideration in the future
if the current football structure is to be maintained.

100 comments

  1. Completely wiped the economic slate clean, now were all holding onto our clubs and history dearly I do hope all make it through

  2. This is also an opportunity for big clubs to buy players at more subsidised rate from small clubs, who have been inflating prices, ex if united bought bruno next window sporting would probably have to sell because they need money more than ever forcing them to sell for less than his value. A big opportunity for a club like man united to move ahead of the rest.

  3. so should we thank corona virus that players like harry maguire and drinkwater can't cost morethan 100M anymore……..

  4. It only takes 1 person in any country to start a national pandemic, since this virus is global and highly contagious I simply don´t believe anything will back to normal within a year. The Corona virus is here for the long haul, each country has it´s measures and some almost disregard the situation, so how are any possible international games playable?

    All we can do is hope for a cure rather sooner than later.

  5. Football can exist without the fans. When we were kids, we all played it without fans and boy did that not matter.
    Football as a money machine maybe can't, but football itself can

  6. I like many people dream of playing for huge clubs, not all for money I do love the game, but the money involved at the top is quite intising, but do you thing wages at the top would suffer so much I couldn't retire after, or would they still be very high and enable me to retire with a large Fortune

  7. Through back to when Tifo made a video of what would happen if football stopped for year. That is becoming a possibility now.

  8. Can I ask though, I know that this channel highlights many of the financial aspects of football; but what about the social aspects? Isn't it unjust that enormous football clubs make so much money? At the expense of whom?

  9. The whole worlds economy is going to take a massive blow. I live in Miami USA and we’ve been hit pretty hard by the virus things are getting scary

  10. Top tier football before Corona virus: We don't need fan admissions to survive
    Top tier football after Corona Virus: Well actually…

  11. What would be the best way to end the 2019-20 season in terms of economic stability and to avoid these problematic scenarios from happening? This being not only in England but the rest of Europe as well.

  12. I can't be the only one looking forward to (hopefully) some significant changes throughout the game when we get through this.

  13. Allow big teams to buy multiple lower league clubs. This should keep them afloat for a while. 10-20 years allow fan trust to by them back.

  14. One topic I would really like for you guys to talk about is do you see that the football market would ever deflate cuz from no point of view do I see it happening

  15. To hell with football. You can say that life is NEVER going back to NORMAL. This is the new model called: House – Work. 1984 has come a bit late, but it is here, and here to stay.

  16. You could also talk about the impact on the health of certains players : injuries, rest for players that played like 60 games last year, will they lose their level due to weight gain too… How will they return to the game without training

  17. I fear English football could soon turn into what Italian football is like – clubs constantly falling under the waves and re-emerging every few years. Just look at Parma, Palermo or Fiorentina. Three medium sized clubs who all dissolved because of a failing financial structure within Italian football.

  18. Great video with a great analysis of what could very likely happen. These are some of the things fans of the biggest clubs in world football do not think about. Keep making these fantastic videos Tifo. It's one thing that keeps me going through these dire times👌🏾

  19. I guess Ronaldo better take the Porsche to training instead of the Ferrari ´cus gas prices are also going up 😀

  20. An ITV digital moment for the PL? Then many, many PL clubs are in serious trouble. What happens if the credit markets freeze up & football cannot continue for at the very least 12 months?

  21. Its 2022 and everyone is so broke that oil money-financed ManCity have to sell De Bruyne, Sterling and Bernardo Silva for a total of 10 million euros to Bayer Leverkusen, who are now the only club left with a huge amount of cash.

  22. It could only mean healthy teams will get stronger. By way of picking up players for less then market value. Levy’s mouth is watering now.

  23. Football should be reset when all of this is done. The greedy bastards have ruined football, now should be the time to right all of the wrongs that have fucked the fans over through the years.

    Highly doubt it.

  24. All clubs should come together and share with each other. Otherwise only Football will lose, Big brothers should come in aid for the smaller ones. This should set example to their fans and community

  25. So the covid19 might save football from money overflowing and decrease tbe sizes back to normal and stop the inflation

  26. I’m genuinely worried for the future of 90% of teams. No income currently makes me wonder how long they’ll stay afloat if the situation doesn’t improve as soon as!!

  27. This story will not be covered on The Athletic. The best place to misdirect football fans with spin doctors on specific club events.

  28. Was supposed to watch Newcastle play Sheffield Utd for my birthday traveled all the way from Carmarthen only for it be cancelled😪

  29. Can see a number of small clubs going bust. This will be global in nature like Coronavirus. Some mid sized teams will go too. There could very well be the odd big team going wallop, although such teams would probably get a state/government bailout. Replicating previous crises where it was socialism for the rich & capitalism for everyone else. Whatever happens it will be the fans who pay. There will have to be a major review/rethink when all this is over. As there will be in economic terms. Coronavirus is exposing the market for all to see.

  30. The chances of 60000 people sitting 6 inches from each other watching a football game is essentially zero til a vaccine is developed and all people immunized. Expect this disruption to last 12-18 months which is what a reasonable expectation for developing a vaccine. And if there is a 2nd wave or a 3rd wave of this virus in Autumn or the coming winter, then what?

    All sports, not just football is FBF. fucked beyond fucked.

  31. People should understand that footballers are just entertainers. True heroes in this world are scientists and researchers.

  32. only a matter of time before all you soccer idiots start mentioning messi & ronaldo for no reason at all……..smh……………….

  33. Ofc, this Coronavirus will have an impact on football-if we are at least intelligent species. If not, next time ask Messi or Ronaldo to treat your virus 😀

  34. Lower wages for players? 😱

    We better start crowdfunding!

    Poor bastards: staying at home with their gold diggers guggling a toilet roll 😪

  35. Could be actually the biggest crisis for football since WW2. I see some people saying "look at the positive side of the virus, we need to change our system" – yes we need. But what those people fail to understand is that the existence of many many people is being threatened, by people who are working behind the scenes for example, and etc. When the world wide crisis is over, it's going to be very ugly afterwards. Our system won't change because of a virus, it's just going to be even more ugly.

  36. Would be cool if you did some vids on formations and their strengths and weaknesses in this downtime, if you can.

    Ie Liverpool 4-3-3, what is it good at what are it's weaknesses are. WHy 4-4-2 has fallen out of fashion.

  37. Maybe at the end of this FIFA will make a streaming service with rights to the top 5 leagues. I know FIFA are evil and would probably mess it up but who else has the money and power? Premier league should make their own streaming service

  38. Whilst the gist of this might be more or less true, the video is a bit speculative.

    The clubs seem determined to finish the season. One club official suggested having a closed door match every day and sticking it on the telly. Broadcasting issue thus sorted. I don't think a broadcaster would have a leg to stand on if they tried…what, suing a club for not playing a match, (when they probably will).

    I would also speculate that matches will likely resume in, let's say June or July and the season will be finished late. Euro 2020 was postponed specifically for this to take place. On the assumption that fans will indeed be let back in at that time, attendance income will thus remain the same, and all the subsidiary businesses will receive their matchday income, just at a different time.

    So, assuming all this, nobody will lose any money (theoretically). But then, I'm speculating…

  39. Is this the world reset we need, simplify our lives, rely less on material goods, rely less on monetary status and greed, bring our communities back closer again, not rely so much on foreign markets and imports of material goods. Limit mass immigration… people will die, economies will suffer but when this is over we will all appreciate how lucky we were. Much love to all the good people out there. 😚

  40. Fuck Winnie-the-FLU dictator king Xi of China for covering up the initial outbreak for at least 3 weeks and letting 5 million people fled the coronavirus epicenter and traveled around the country and the world.

  41. Title: The Economic Impact of Coronavirus on Football
    Goes on to talk about English Football for 90% of the whole video

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