The walls are closing in, 2019/20 seasons are gasping for breath, the Premier League is clawing desperately to survive… but it’s not looking good. Ligue 1 is cancelled, PSG has been crowned champions with an *. The Dutch league is over without a champion, Belgium is finished, the Sports Minister in Italy reckons they are likely going to follow suit. Germany, England and Spain are still clutching, but it seems ever more likely this is optimism in the extreme.
The Premier League is absolutely desperate to dodge a voided season. July TV money is due soon and the clubs are fearing the nightmare of having to give back £37.5m they have probably already spent.
There is some hope, Arsenal players are back at training, there are some fun shots of the players on shooting practice. However, the solutions being put forward by the league look utterly desperate and fragile in the extreme. They are somehow going to guarantee twice-weekly testing for players and supporting staff. Quite the number considering that testing for everyone else is so badly lacking. Someone worked out that could be 1800, how will that work for the normal person on the frontlines?
What happens if ONE player gets the disease and infects 8 players during a game? You cannot account for how bad that PR would be. It’d look very reckless.
There are also lots of reporters indicating the players aren’t exactly over the moon about being thrown into the mixer. Statistically, the chances they’ll have longterm problems is low. However, there are plenty of horrible side effects that athletes would want to avoid. Scarring of the lungs (lowering lung capacity would be horrendous for pro athletes), strokes, even brain damage. Even though the risk is minor, who wants to be the one? The bigger concern will be for their families. No one wants to take a disease back to the family pug.
Starting the season is not about sheer greed, it’s about surviving death. The finance wizards at the AST have DIRE news for Mesut Ozil and his team that are currently thumbing through our finances as they pontificate on whether to take a pay cuts.
Covid-19 is likely to take Arsenal from a situation where they would have reported a small profit of £4m for this current season to one of recording a loss of £19m. If behind closed doors (BCD) becomes an issue that affects all of next season then the club could face reporting losses of £144m.
“So we can see that the reduction in income from playing BCD for the rest of the season will knock £23m ($26m) from available cash at the end of the season as will the absence of season ticket renewals.
“The combined impact will leave little spare cash this summer, especially if sponsors withhold part of their advance payments for season 2020-21.
“Arsenal’s available cash reserves heading into the summer of 2020-21 could be wiped out and a new borrowing requirement of over £50m ($62m) being required by the end of July if the club is to meet its commitments to pay other clubs instalments due on player transfers and finance wages in June and July. So we certainly don’t predict a big spending transfer window!
“Whilst the money set aside as security for the bondholders, who have lent the remaining £170m ($210m) of stadium related debt, cannot be touched, it is almost inevitable that Arsenal will be drawing on its short term £50m ($62m) loan facility made available by Barclays.”
If you believe that a club run sustainably should look to internal solutions to solve downturns, then you have to say, the 12.5% wage cut really does look like a drop in the ocean given the severity of the monster hiding under the bed. Bigger concern is how the club reacts if the worst case happens? They might have to go back again.
Back to the original theme, if Europe is anything to go by, it would seem very unlikely we’ll bring the game back, which makes it more likely the worst-case scenarios come to fruition.
On the podcast, Matt and Aash argued that this sort of nonsense works for the ambitious billionaires. It’ll be disaster capitalism. My view is that we’re more likely to see clubs come together as a cover to get the game under control.
We are about to see who is right, the game is in deep trouble, someone is going to have to lead the way out of this mess. Survival at the highest level is essential, even more so at the lower level. There is a lot to protect, let’s hope everyone comes together and football can look as close to normal when it returns.
Right, listen to the podcast. x