There are two ways of looking at the Government’s announcement of a ban on social gatherings of over six people. The first is that it makes absolute sense under the circumstances with the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, but the second is that it will impact greatly on sport in general as large sums of revenue are written off from the spreadsheets in the blink of an eye due to a continued absence of supporters.
One assumes that the government can’t make an exception on the rule of social gatherings for football clubs, even if the threat of insolvency looms large over several clubs, who were lucky to survive lockdown and the repercussions of empty stadiums.
The sudden disappearance of the funds that had already been locked into the yearly budgets left huge holes in the books, but with the promise of the supporters returning in October, additional revenues were again included in the ongoing recalculations. With the return of supporters unlikely for some time, it appears that the accountants may have to pull another all-nighter to produce some form of miracle.
From an Arsenal perspective, it has certainly hindered some planned transfer deals and the club now has to consider its position after another financial hammer blow. The Aubameyang deal should have been done and dusted weeks ago, but Arsenal’s ill-conceived plan to jettison Mesut Ozil by freezing him out failed miserably and they haven’t been able to secure deals to rid themselves of unwanted fringe players.
With the accountants at the club looking at every possible way to divert funds to the transfer kitty, only the sales of their better players seem to make sense. Torreira, Guendouzi, Bellerin, Lacazette, and Martinez could be the casualties in this phase of the unfolding drama but the club has little choice, especially, if they are to get the prized asset of Aubameyang to stay at the Emirates for three more years.
It’s slightly baffling that with revenues dipping, the transfer fees appear to remain preposterously high with many clubs almost ignoring the facts and circumstances, but when has football ever employed a sense of perspective?
If Arsenal are to secure one deal this transfer window, they need to prioritise Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, perhaps, instead of the planned transfer targets that seem to constantly elude them. Either that or sell a couple of assets that guarantee his continued presence for the next three years.
Long term, I believe that we are not far away from losing some cherished clubs in the lower leagues without the essential revenues of attendances and cup runs. This pandemic will change every aspect of our lives and in many ways, it has done already. Let’s hope people follow the social gatherings rule this time!