We’re living in unprecedented times. The Premier League has never stopped in its 28 years of life.
While the outbreak of coronavirus poses plenty of questions around the world, it is prompting a fair few in the football world too.
If coronavirus delays the season, what will happen to player contracts?
Footballers’ contracts tend to run to summertime expiries. Even if someone signs in January, it’s extremely rare for a deal to expire any time other than the end of the season.
This causes problems if players’ contracts are running out… before the end of the season. Should the Premier League finish the 2019/20 season past the point of many contracts ending - see Willian, Adam Lallana and David Silva - UEFA will need to step in. Either a law will have to be passed in football to extend the deals, or clubs themselves will have to extend them somehow. It’s messy, but strange times call for strange measures.
Will Liverpool get given their title if the season is cancelled?
Right now, no one knows whether Jordan Henderson is going to lift the Premier League trophy for this season’s outstanding campaign. Least of all Liverpool themselves.
While there’s been a lot of talk of how it would be fair to give it to the Reds if the season ends abruptly - they’re 20-odd points clear, after all - it would come with an asterisk. This isn’t a full season. This isn’t the way that Jurgen Klopp would have wanted to win it and though they might be awarded the trophy, it won’t be for the 38-game, record-breaking, 100-points-plus effort that we all expected it would be just weeks ago.
If the season gets delayed, where will West Ham play?
The London Stadium is set to host concerts, athletics events and even baseball this summer. While it’s understandable that the Hammers wouldn’t want to face a relegation battle in a neutral arena, however, West Ham do have a priority clause written into their contract with the tax-built stadium.
Karren Brady’s open letter in a national newspaper at the weekend, campaigning for her side’s sorry season to be scrapped and started again in the summer might have come off as sour grapes, but it did provide an interesting point. Luckily for Brady though, it seems unlikely that David Moyes will have to borrow the first team dressing room at Tottenham’s ground just because of a gig happening in East London.
How much will coronavirus cost the Premier League?
Football is a big business and the loss of matchday income is going to affect the pockets of every club - some more than others. Manchester United, who made the most of anyone in 2018 (approximately £110m per match from ticket sales) could lose the most, but this is offset from TV rights, sponsorship and other incomes.
The Premier League itself has sold the rights to broadcasters. The clubs will become more and more affected by the loss of matchday revenue with every week that turnstiles stay closed. The situation is largely dependable on when fans can get back into stadiums. This is no doubt going to cost big money, but the teams at the top are luckily wealthy enough to ensure it won’t hit them too hard.
Will Sky and BT need to refund customers if the season is cancelled?
As it stands, there are no plans from the two major Premier League broadcasters to refund viewers who fork out for monthly subscriptions to their services. Amazon have got their fixtures out of the way - and are exempt from the discussion - while Sky and BT are offering plenty more content to keep you occupied through the barren weeks without the beautiful game.
Should the season be nulled and voided though, the question of whether consumers will get at least a partial refund on their season pass, so to speak, will rear its head again. It would cost both companies millions and isn’t exactly written into your TV contract - expect a token gesture from the pair at the very least, but certainly don’t get your hopes up.
Are any clubs at risk of financial collapse because of coronavirus?
There aren’t any clubs in the current top flight who appear on the brink of financial ruin. Further down the pyramid, however, lengthy spells without football could prove to be costly - Football League fans may be worried of Bury-like scenarios.
The longer clubs go without football - top tier or otherwise - the trickier it’s going to get. In some cases, owners may have to dig deep to pay staff at clubs around the country. Insurance on this kind of thing is a grey area too. Let’s just all hope that there’s a little light shed on the whole situation, sooner rather than later.
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