All sport facing financial meltdown

The potential damage to sport from the corona virus pandemic, could cost as much as £740 million, it was announced yesterday.

The mammoth total is a combination of cancelled events, lost sponsorship and the real threat of possible legal action.

In a hearing before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, the executives of various sports bodies laid out the following gloomy news.

Football League clubs are already facing a £200 million shortfall by September.

Rugby Union face losses of almost £107 million, if England’s autumn internationals are cancelled.

Cricket could also face a severe financial hit in the pocket to the tune of £380 million if the corona virus wipes out all matches this summer, and this doesn’t include the financial  loss that the Premiership will suffer, should they fail to complete their season.

Even more worrying news long term is that Olympic and Paralympic sports require a further £53 million to fund athletes until next years games.

Yesterday, Crystal Palace’s chairman Steve Parish warned that football could follow the ravaged airline industry. Rick Parry, chairman of the English Football League, said that the current crisis must lead to changes that include salary caps, restricted squad sizes and an end to the system of parachute payments to teams relegated from the Premier League.

Personally, I feel Mr Parry is totally correct in what he is saying. Due to the economic future of not just the U.K but also worldwide, eventually the immense amount of money that the Premiership is currently worth will surely have to be decreased. By reducing squads down to a reasonable level will solve one problem, but the key to this must surely be what Rugby have introduced for a long while, salary caps.

Yes, it will possibly have a downside that the Premiership won’t be able to attract the best players in the world anymore, but there will still be a host of other very good players who would only be too willing to apply their trade in England’s top league.

Parry also brings up a wonderful point of parachute payments. Relegated sides fear dropping down to the Championship due to losing huge finances, but this is offset with a large parachute sum. If this was to be cancelled, as Parry suggested then it would make championship sides adapt to a new level of finance in the second tier of football, and I generally believe this would work.

Championship clubs are no different to Premiership clubs by overspending to try and get themselves back into the top level, in fact Parry mentioned yesterday that Championship wages had been running at 106 per cent of the leagues turnover.

Parry also warned top flight clubs that things would get “very messy” if they try to prevent relegation and promotion. Here here Rick, spot on, what would be the point of playing out the rest of the season without the fear of relegation and the chance to go up to the next level in football. It would also take away all the competitiveness of the truncated season.

Despite the Premiership clubs clearly not favouring the idea of having to play behind closed doors, the loss in gate revenue would be nothing compared to the championship and lower leagues. The EFL, whose business model depends so heavily on match-day income more so than the Premiership, are also desperately trying to get the season completed as soon as possible. With almost 1,400 EFL players out of contract this summer, that creates another problem. The EFL also stressed that the cut-off point to conclude the season would be July 31st.

Cricket could also be in financial ruin this summer, with the sport facing a deficit of £100 million even if England are able to play some form of international cricket behind closed doors this summer. With no revenue coming in for the Hundred as well, which has been put back a season, and the clear chance that the Blast could also not feature, this will only see some counties facing an uphill battle to survive.

Womens cricket would also suffer, with the strong possibility of large cuts in the game, which would hit the sport at a time when the womens version of the game has steadily grown.

The RFU- Rugby Football Union- is also facing huge losses and could even follow rugby league, who recently asked the government for a £16 million loan, in requesting a government bailout in the scenario of no international rugby before next summer.

The RFU have already lost a staggering £15 million because of lockdown, and is set to lose a further £32 million, even if November’s internationals get the green light to go ahead. The RFU currently have around 60 per cent of its staff on furlough and believes it could take as long as six years to fully recover, with the strong possibility of the Six Nations leaving free to air television. If the 2021 Six Nations were also to be affected, the RFU would almost certainly have to go to the government for help.

UK Sport has requested £53.4 million in government funding to ensure that Olympic and Paralympic sports don’t face disastrous decisions ahead of next year’s Tokyo Games.

It isn’t just main sports that are after funding due to the current economic climate. British Basketball BBL last week said that they were looking into the possibility of approaching the government for a million-pound loan to make sure that clubs can get by past the summer. Not in the same category as Football, Cricket, Rugby and Olympic teams, but still a sport that will need help.

Basketball, I fear could well be the tip of the iceberg, with many sports big and small feeling there will be no other alternative to help them survive this current predicament that we all find ourselves in.

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