BIG 5 EURO LEAGUES MAY LOSE $6.3B OVER CORONAVIRUS

Europe’s top five football leagues could lose as much as €4 billion (S$6.3 billion) in combined revenue if the coronavirus pandemic wipes out the rest of the season, according to a study by KPMG.

Leagues across the continent have mostly been suspended till at least April 4 by the deadly spread of the Covid-19 disease.

KPMG calculated that the total potential match day, broadcasting and commercial revenues set to be generated by the remaining matches in the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga, Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue 1 added up to between €3.45 billion and €4.1 billion.

The accounting firm estimates the EPL would lose the most, with as much as €1.25 billion should the season be halted – a potential €800 million of that in broadcasting revenue alone.

“Broadcasters who have collective deals with leagues may claim that they want money back proportionally if matches are cancelled and the season is not completed,” said the report.

La Liga in Spain could lose as much as €600 million from broadcasters from a cancelled season, the report added, while Serie A clubs stand to lose up to €450 million. The Bundesliga and Ligue 1 may have deficits of as much as €400 million and €200 million respectively.

FifPro, the global players’ union, said that football is facing its first economic crisis for decades with the prospect of mass layoffs of players if nothing is done to bail out clubs left without matches.

“For the vast majority, a loss of income for two or three months is as threatening as for any other worker, so any coordinated action is very, very important,” FifPro general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann said.

Italy’s football federation (FIGC) said that in order to aid the clubs, wage cuts for players should not be ruled out. “It can’t be taboo to talk about salary cuts,” FIGC president Gabriele Gravina told Radio 24.

“The emergency applies to everyone and our world must also have the ability to change. We have been called upon to make gestures of great responsibility.”

In reply, Damiano Tommasi, the head of the Italian players’ union, agreed that “the sustainability of the football system during and after this global crisis is obviously of extreme interest to all those who live in this system, including footballers”.

Scottish Premier League side Hearts have asked all staff, including players, to take a 50 per cent wage cut.

“This reduction in income is not sustainable without taking immediate action to cut staff costs and overheads,” their chairman Ann Budge said in a club statement.

Meanwhile, the English Football League has announced a £50 million (S$83.7 million) relief package to assist financially stricken clubs during the shutdown.

“The cash injection is included as part of a series of measures that also include potential government support to help clubs and their associated businesses through this period of uncertainty,” it said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS