Elland Road turnstiles to remain shut as fans locked out indefinitely
22 Sep 2020 09:14 am, by YorkshireSquare
With the government announcing tighter restrictions on Tuesday in a bid to control the spread of Coronavirus, one of the first victims was the potential return of crowds to sporting events including football. Successful trials had been held in the Football League over the weekend with crowds at games including Luton Town vs Derby County, Norwich City vs Preston North End and Middlesbrough vs Bournemouth in the Championship. But plans for more fans to return from 1st October will now not go ahead, says cabinet office minister Michael Gove. Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Gove confirmed plans for a staged return of fans would be "paused";
We were looking at a staged programme of more people returning - it wasn't going to be the case that we were going to have stadiums thronged with fans. We're looking at how we can, for the moment, pause that programme, but what we do want to do is to make sure that, as and when circumstances allow, get more people back. The virus is less likely to spread outdoors than indoors but again it's in the nature of major sporting events that there's a lot of mingling.
With the gates to Elland Road remaining firmly shut to regular fans for the foreseeable future and a full return of football crowds looking unlikely this season, what impact could that have on the club? Andrea Radrizzani revealed that Leeds took a hit of £30m-£40m worth of revenue due to the pandemic and no crowds for the remainder of the season could mean a further £15 million plus hit. What impact could this have on Leeds, could the transfer kitty be affected? Might Leeds have to reassess the business done in the remainder of the window? Maybe Rodrigo De Paul at €35 million would be a bit of a stretch too far given the lack of matchday revenue.
But are Leeds United in a much better position that other teams? Leeds do not have the high wage bills of the established Premier League teams and were operating on a top end Championship budget. For them the Premier League TV money means a dramatic increase in revenues, even at the reduced rates, leaving Leeds with a good amount available to spend in the transfer market and plenty of scope for growth in terms of the wage bill. Even without match day revenues Leeds are still very strong commercially with brand new kit and sponsorship deals and the ability to sell replica shirts like no other teams outside the top six.
Without the drain of debt repayments for a brand new, shiny but empty stadium like Spurs or an extremely large wage bill might Leeds be one of the more prepared clubs? What is clear is that it was a great time to get out of the Championship. With matchday revenues the bread and butter for a lot of teams in the Football League, you must wonder how many teams may fall into administration during a season long lockout.