Premier League set for £340m broadcast charge even if games return
Clubs from English soccer's top-tier Premier League could end up having to refund the league's domestic and international broadcasters to the tune of £340 million ($419 million), even if the paused 2019-20 season does restart as planned.
The season has been on hold since mid-March due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and plans are currently under way for the league to potentially start again behind closed doors, in mid-June.
However, even if the matches do then go ahead, the refund would be necessary due to changes around their scheduling and conditions (games would take place on different days and at different times to originally planned, and behind closed doors instead of with full crowds in attendance).
Richard Masters, the Premier League’s chief executive, has previously predicted a loss of over £1 billion if the current season is not completed.
Talking to media yesterday, after a lengthy video meeting with executives from all 20 clubs, he said: “Whatever happens, there’s going to be significant loss of revenue for clubs. That is inevitable.
“We were able to paint a picture today about what would happen in various scenarios, playing out the season and not playing out the season.”
The current Premier League broadcast cycle, running between 2019 and 2022, is set to earn clubs a total of around £9.2 billion from both domestic and international rights-holders.
Also at the meeting, the possibility of curtailing the season was discussed for the first time, although Masters said that “a really strong collective will to complete the season remains.”
He added: “It’s the first time we’ve discussed curtailment. It’s still our aim to finish the season, but it’s important to discuss all the options with our clubs.”
While 12 June has been reported as the provisional date the league is aiming to return on, Masters said: “I think it’s too early for us to talk about it. We want to remain in step with government and the authorities.”
It also emerged at yesterday’s meeting that there is still a split over playing the remaining games at neutral venues, which has been one of the suggestions put forward as a condition for restarting. Indeed, according to the UK’s Times newspaper, the Premier League will now ask the government to reconsider the neutral grounds directive.
Uefa, European soccer’s governing body, has set a deadline of 25 May for leagues around the continent to finalise their plans for either restarting or curtailing their various seasons.
More meetings between the Premier League and its various stakeholders are due to be held during the remainder of this week, with the next all-club meeting scheduled for 18 May.
Elsewhere in European soccer, clubs from Italy’s top-tier Serie A will be allowed to start collective team training from 18 May, the Italian government has now said.
Teams have so far only been allowed to train their players on an individual basis, sometimes on completely separate pitches, while respecting strict social distancing rules.
The FIGC, the Italian soccer federation, has now said that in order for team training to take place, clubs should create a group of players and staff who have all tested negative for coronavirus, and then isolate them in a training camp, with regular testing from that point forward.
In a joint statement, the country’s health minister Roberto Sperenza, and sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora said that while they had ordered a few changes to the protocol the FIGC had suggested be put in place, they would give the green light for team training to proceed.
Serie A has been suspended since 9 March, and there are still 12 rounds of the current season left to play.
While the government has yet to make a final decision on whether the season can actually restart, this step will be a boost for the league.
Serie A, according to financial consultancy firm KPMG, would lose between €550 million ($595 million) and €650 million in total if no further matches were played this year, with lost revenue from broadcasting, sponsorship and match day income.
Meanwhile, the Danish Superliga will resume on 28 May, the Danish League Association has announced.
That country’s top-tier soccer league has been postponed since early March, and will continue behind closed doors.
The DLA has said it is planning for the season to conclude by late July.
The decision to restart the league comes as Denmark as a whole is preparing to loosen some of the stricter measures it had put in place earlier this year to combat the virus’ spread.
The Austrian Bundesliga has also been given the green light to return by the country’s government, with reports suggesting that 2 June will be the restart date, preceeded by the 30 May OFB Cup final.