Has the pandemic changed football forever?

06 Feb 2021 08:29 am, by YorkshireSquare


Good Morning. It's Saturday 6th February, and her are the latest headlines from Elland Road…


Are we in danger of losing the event of Saturday football?

Saturday used to be the day of football. Up and down the country, at all levels of the footballing pyramid games would be played. From Roundhay Park to Hackney Marshes, from Old Trafford to Elland Road games would kick off across the land. But here we are on another Saturday without a Leeds United game. It all started with the dawn of the Premier League of course, and Sky’s Super Sunday and Monday Night Football. But the majority of top-flight games were still played on a Monday at 3pm. This weekend sees only two games at 3pm on Saturday and having two on at this time is a rarity these days.

The Coronavirus pandemic has of course changed the way we watch football. With fans locked out of stadiums every game is now broadcast and kick-off times are staggered to ensure you can watch ten live games every weekend, should you have forked out for the three separate subscriptions you need to watch every game. But as much as watching football non-stop for 20 hours relieves the boredom it does mean football has become more of a commodity than an event.

There is something special about everyone playing at the same time, the league table changing by the minute, Sergio Aguero depriving Manchester United of the title in the 94th minute was celebrated with a cheer and a chuckle in the Kop at Elland Road. Are we in danger of losing football as an event, will it ever go back to the way it was or is it now the ultimate consumer product, available 24x7 at the flick of a switch?





Has the bottom dropped out of the transfer market?

This January transfer window was hard work for the 24x7 rumour mongers over on Sky Sports News. It was the quietest window in 9 years with Premier League clubs spending just £70 million. To put that into context Liverpool spent more than that on their own in January 2018 when they signed Virgil van Dijk for £75 million. The big move was Joshua King signing from Everton from Bournemouth and I find it difficult to get too excited about that, less so about West Brom signing Mbaye Diagne.

But even summer was subdued, aside from Chelsea of course. Leeds as newcomers outspent most in teams in Europe, even then only bringing in four players for the first team. With French football in the middle of a TV rights debacle which has seen games inaccessible to fans and Spanish football in danger of imploding financially has the bottom dropped out of the transfer market? Rennes selling Raphinha to Leeds for just £17 million appears to have been an opportunity for them to cash in with ever increasing financial uncertainty surrounding Ligue 1. Surely he is a £30 million plus player?

So, has the bottom fallen out of the market? Will it recover and spending hit the figures we have seen in recent seasons or have we hit a defining moment? Are Premier League teams best placed to exploit a weak market with its global pull and propensity to exploit every commercial opportunity going?




View all Showing latest five comments of five...

YorkshireSquare wrote on 06 Feb 2021 10:47 am

Smudge3920 wrote: It was only a matter of time before the "mighty $" took a hold of the game as it did in the States with their major sports.

Was reading an interesting article about how the FIFA game series opened the Premier Leagues eyes to a lot of the licensing and commercial opportunities. When EA Sports pitched up with the kind of deals they had been going in the US for years it was completely new to Football.

I do worry it is becoming more of a commodity, especially with so many more American owners including the 49ers.

Smudge3920 wrote on 06 Feb 2021 09:25 am

Good morning all ...

Are we in danger of losing the event of Saturday football?

As far as top flight football is concerned, I fear the answer is yes. The money made from broadcasting has a strangle hold now that I cannot see being broken....It was only a matter of time before the "mighty $" took a hold of the game as it did in the States with their major sports.

Has the bottom dropped out of the transfer market?

Not sure it has dropped out , or more clubs are now being "very speculative" ...come the summer there will be many more in dire straights, and some on the verge of closing up shop (some are close now)... the big boys money men are waiting for the fire sales...

HarryofOz wrote on 06 Feb 2021 09:03 am

YorkshireSquare wrote: Sat Feb 06, 2021 8:54 am The Premier League appears to be pretty resilient through this. They are maximising broadcast opportunities and the one they did lose in China they replaced fairly quickly without losing any revenue.

French football however saw its right deal collapse in December. They had signed the second largest deal in European football but Mediapro were unable to keep up with the payments and pulled out after just four months. In the latest auction the three bidders; Amazon, Discovery and DAZN failed to meet the reserve price.

Over in Spain Barcelona are on the verge on bankruptcy, nearly €1 Billion in debt. The players have not been paid their full wages and transfer fees remain unpaid. Could turmoil at the Spanish giants cause a bigger ripple in the spending power at Spanish clubs? Real Madrid are also €900 million in debt, though this seems to be structured in a more manageable way than their Catalonian rivals.
Fair points. Didn't know that about the French league and would have thought that broadcast deals would be more lucrative given that that is the only way to watch games.

YorkshireSquare wrote on 06 Feb 2021 08:54 am

HarryofOz wrote: Sat Feb 06, 2021 8:40 am I think any lull in the transfer market is going to be temporary. The GFC was supposed to bring down prices but didn't. The impact of COVID has of course been bigger on the game in general and the transfer market as well, but it will return to it's pre-COVID levels sooner or later.

The Premier League appears to be pretty resilient through this. They are maximising broadcast opportunities and the one they did lose in China they replaced fairly quickly without losing any revenue.

French football however saw its right deal collapse in December. They had signed the second largest deal in European football but Mediapro were unable to keep up with the payments and pulled out after just four months. In the latest auction the three bidders; Amazon, Discovery and DAZN failed to meet the reserve price.

Over in Spain Barcelona are on the verge on bankruptcy, nearly €1 Billion in debt. The players have not been paid their full wages and transfer fees remain unpaid. Could turmoil at the Spanish giants cause a bigger ripple in the spending power at Spanish clubs? Real Madrid are also €900 million in debt, though this seems to be structured in a more manageable way than their Catalonian rivals.

HarryofOz wrote on 06 Feb 2021 08:40 am

It would probably have happened - and essentially was happening anyway - but football rounds will be spread out as much as possible for the benefit of broadcasting. Even when the crowds return - and I think that is a long way away - I think that fixtures will be scheduled as they currently are.

I think any lull in the transfer market is going to be temporary. The GFC was supposed to bring down prices but didn't. The impact of COVID has of course been bigger on the game in general and the transfer market as well, but it will return to it's pre-COVID levels sooner or later.