Before anything else, we hope that anyone who reads this (and their friends and family) is in good health and remains to be so in the midst of these unprecedented times. Few times throughout the history of English football has an external occurrence like the current situation so clearly and dramatically shown us that there are more important things in life than football.
The global scale and extremely rapid evolution of this event make it seem unstoppable at times, but it’s not. Far from it, actually, but it does require each and everyone of us to behave responsibly. Listen to what your government requests, they are working on flattening the curve in order to prevent public health systems from overloading and collapsing. Take the situation seriously, but remember there is no reason to panic. Try an extra social and compassionate attitude in daily life, from regular phone calls to your elderly loved ones to volunteering some of your time to help other people and small businesses, especially the most vulnerable ones. This crisis is everyone’s crisis, regardless of beliefs, race, or wealth, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to fulfil their duties as citizens and human beings.
Now, games like the Fantasy Premier League played by over 7 million people worldwide. Sure, many things are more important than football, but we believe we’re speaking in name of more than a few FPL managers out there when we say that a postponement of the entire Premier League until at least the 4th of April has brought about a whole additional sensation of withdrawal, on top of the ongoing madness. So what’s the situation at the moment? When will our weekends have purpose again? Can the league really be declared null and void? And if so, who would tell Jurgen Klopp?
We definitely don’t have all the answers, but with this article we do hope to shed a bit more light on the current situation for you.
First things first, the Premier League. We doubt you missed this news, but last Friday morning, March 13th, the English Football Association decided to postpone all footballing action until April 4th. The first teams to go into quarantine after a squad member got infected were Arsenal, after manager Mikel Arteta was revealed to have tested positive on Thursday; Chelsea, where Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive on Thursday night; and Everton.
From a footballing perspective, the big problem is that there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the coming weeks and months. The current measures run until April 4th, but the way it is spreading throughout Europe and the world at the moment make an extension of those measures more than likely. The fact that many huge sports events are already being postponed entirely (including the 2020 Euro Cup, which we’ll cover later on) could indicate that experts and governments are expecting a period of at least several months before a return to relative normality can even be considered again.
As a senior English football executive told the Financial Times earlier this week, there is no rulebook about having to finish a season, which means a potential premature ending of the 2019/20 campaign has to be discussed amongst all teams. That discussion would almost certainly be dominated by different teams defending very different interests, from Liverpool claiming the title to the likes of Norwich and West Ham fighting to avoid relegation this way. And of course promotions to the Premier League from the Championship. Another possibility is that the remainder of this season is completed much later on, but with football calendars so cramped already, this will cause an abundance of complications as well. Or maybe there will be no relegations but still promotions and a 22 team Premier League next season with extra relegations at the end of that season?
In other words, the situation looks dire as an uncomplicated solution seems not to exist. We can’t say much about the near future of the Premier League yet, we’ll simply have to wait and see how the bigger picture evolves around the world, but what we can do, is take a look at what it would mean in an economic sense if the 2019/20 Premier League season cannot be finished, which is one of the possible scenarios.
What complicates the situation at a fundamental level is the sheer amount of money directly related to the Premier League. Here are a few parameters and their values:
|Parameter||Value per year||Losses if PL is cancelled|
|Annual ticket sales PL||£720 million||10 weeks (£190m)|
|TV rights in UK||£1.3 billion||About £9m per game|
|Int. broadcasting||£9.2 billion|
|Champions League spot||Total prize pool of £2 billion|
|Promotion to PL||At least £170 million|
These are, of course, just a few of the many factors that will come into play during this discussion, but it does provide a good idea of the economic and financial consequences of cancelling the rest of this season. On top of the hugely differing interests per club, there are also the contracts with sponsors, broadcasters, and other stakeholders to take into account. How are they all going to find a compromise that is fair to everyone? We don’t know, but we do know that it’s going to be a discussion for the ages.
Football leagues all over Europe have been brought to a halt over the past week or so and we might provide a more in-depth look into the situation of some of these leagues at a later point, but we felt we could not skip over Euro 2020.
Euro 2020 was postponed by a year.
The tournament was supposed to take place between June 12th 2020 and July 12th 2020, but it was decided by the UEFA today (Tuesday, March 17th) to move it to the period June 11th 2021 – July 11th 2021. On the one hand, this drastic measure could indicate that the experts and authorities have no hope of a return to relative normality before coming summer, meaning bad news for the rest of the Premier League season as well. On the other hand, postponing the European Championships potentially frees up a month this summer in which the remaining PL games could be played. This remains highly uncertain though, as it is simply impossible to know when normal life, including football and other sports, can resume. All we can say for now is to stay safe, stay healthy, be wise, keep a close eye on the news, and try to make the best of this football-less period.