The Premier League season needs to inevitably reboot by mid-May or early June, if not then, it will be impossible to do so. The urgency is even greater given that many clubs will face massive losses, redundancies and the threat of administration.
The massive monetary framework involved is at the point of collapse and there will be lasting damage throughout English football with many clubs unable to carry on after the lock-down policy is lifted.
It’s said that clubs are applying maximum pressure to reinstate some form of football fixture at the earliest opportunity and when it’s absolutely safe to do so. However, the government is aware that any unreasonable delays in lifting restrictions will close some football stadiums for good.
Bernard Caiazzo, president of a group which represents the top French clubs in Ligue 1 said that:
“Without state aid, within six months, half of the professional clubs will file for bankruptcy”
Tony Cascarino, a former Chelsea and Republic of Ireland forward said just recently:
“I think what COVID-19 has caused, with the carnage it is and doing right now, you are going to see clubs going out of business.”
“That is inevitable further down the pecking order; it is guaranteed.”
“There are a number of clubs literally on the brink.”
This was a view endorsed by Burnley chairman Mike Garlick, who warned fans of the possibility of the club going bust by August. A Premier League club such as Burnley, established in 1882, stand to lose £50m if the season is over and would in all honesty never recover. Garlick said:
“The fact of the matter is, if we don’t finish the season and there isn’t a clear start date for next season, we, as a club, will run out of money by August. That is a fact.”
Burnley chairman added:
“It is crystal clear that finishing the season is by far the best outcome for all the Premier League clubs.”
Now consider the dilemma Tottenham are currently facing. A Premier League club heavily in debt with a stadium said to have cost a hefty £1 billion and no available revenue streams to repay the various loans. Unable to use the stadium as a venue for concerts or proposed boxing bouts, Tottenham could be in serious trouble if this situation continues and at the moment, they may be considering the sale of a few big-name players to balance the books in the summer.
Recently, there has been a suggestion that clubs and broadcasters will be only too willing to exploit the demand for the sport when it finally gets the green light and all the remaining fixtures could be televised in a condensed program across the days of the week.
There will be an increased demand for it because the sport will almost certainly still be without a real audience presence as clubs play their remaining fixtures behind closed doors. Instead of advertising fees dipping, they may temporarily spike and bring huge funds to desperate clubs. It will also free up the payments that have not been forthcoming from Sky and BT sport.
The problems facing the sport are massive, with many hurdles and challenges ahead, but I suspect that any solutions will be too late for some.