Will football survive the coronavirus? (A worst-case scenario?)

Kicking the can down the road – not the football by AndersS

It is one week ago now since I wrote the first article trying to outline the horrible events that are in store. Many took the time to debate the health issues contained in it.

In the week that has gone by, as good as no events have helped to raise optimism. Indeed, many who were sceptical a week ago are now closer to sharing the opinion of those of us who are expecting the worst. The worst in my opinion being that many countries are getting into an Italian-like situation. Unfortunately, I think that is where we are heading, unless some miracle turns up a cure in the next few weeks.

What has happened this last week has been very predictable in many ways. What has surprised me, though, is that to a large degree a big part of the football media, including some on this site, are still thinking the different leagues in the UK and in the rest of Europe can be finished this side of summer. On top of that, discussions and rumours about players transfers also seem to be based on a “return to normal” expectation in the near future.

I am going to stick my neck out here and make a couple of statements…

Forget any thinking about a return to normal in the foreseeable future. The economic impact of this will most likely see many clubs around Europe fighting to survive. I have explained the reasons in the previous articles.

The first will be clubs trying to force players’ salaries down to a much lower level than their contracts say, and “releasing” the players who don’t accept it, can already be assumed. These are just small first warnings. There will be much more to come, including from bigger clubs.

The market situation is changing so rapidly it is hard to grasp. In Arsenal’s case, my totally unqualified guess would be that if we 2 weeks ago had put our entire squad up for sale, we could have collected say 2 billion. If we were to do it today, we couldn’t get 50% of that, and by the time the transfer window arrives it will be much less.

I still maintain that, before this is over we will see even big clubs releasing players for nothing to any club who are willing to pay their salaries.

Much more can be said about this, but it is really not my main point with this article.

Why is it the football media are so much out touch with reality at the moment? I think it has partly to do with the footballing authorities.

As we all know, the official plan is to finish the PL by June 30. This is not going to happen.

I actually think the people behind this timeframe are no fools. They probably also know it won’t happen.

Their problem is, they can’t admit to it. If they were to admit it- i.e. by declaring the season finished or declare it null and void or finished as it stands, it would lay the ground for absolute havoc.

It would be a formal violation of the TV contracts, from which sums of billions are flowing to the league on a regular basis. The violation may not only cost them huge sums for this season, it could also result in many TV companies wanting a renegotiation of the price for the future – in other words a potential much bigger loss on the horizon.

On top of that, declaring the season over now will very likely result in legal battles with clubs, who feel the cancellation has caused them losses.

At the moment, there is no solution to all these problems. But behind the scenes, there must be dialogues between the leagues and the holders of the TV rights, and indeed the sponsors rights etc, and before those dialogues can reach some kind of conclusion, we will see no final decision.

So officially for now the “plan” is to finish by June the 30th, and apparently a large part of the football media continue to “play along” and publish articles about resumption, transfers etc. etc.
A good American expression is that the authorities are simply “kicking the can down the road” at the moment. I wonder, when exactly it will change. Because, change it will.

In the larger scale of things, these problems are just minuscule compared to the “life and death” issues from the virus. Make no mistake, they are also on the forefront of my mind. But I do think, the human race will survive this, and one day, we will see football again.

Anders Sørensen


  1. What a sensible and well thought through article. The fact that it was so in touch with the bleak reality of the future months made it so readable, even though also sombre.

  2. I personally think we’re doomed!

    Death toll in Australia (where I am now) is around 7, with about 1300 reported cases at the moment, which will rise further. They have now taken the decision to shut most things down as of tomorrow. It’s very hot here still in most areas, which is a positive thing, as the virus is far more dangerous in colder conditions, yet the lock down is here.

    As I keep stressing, if they are willing to shut down the country in these hot conditions, with so few deaths (0.000028%), and cases (0.0052%) in relation to the population, what on earth are they going to do during the winter months when flu season hits? The colder conditions being far more dangerous.

    And why stop at Corona? If this all about containment, and saving lives, should there not be a ban on sugar? The worst drug of all time! Think how many people die, and suffer because of sugar. How many people get rich off the back of it. Or alcohol perhaps? Another big killer. Why not smoking? And so on…

    I find it fascinating how obsessed everyone is with Corona, yet all these other, far more dangerous things almost get ignored.

    Corona will just be the same as all the others. Whether it was man made or not, it’s about money, and power. Medical martial law, and a rejigging of the economy.

    Maybe this is the new 9/11?

    For all those thinking me as a conspiracy theorist, just watch the new laws getting passed in the wake of this. For the rest of you thinking I have no compassion, far from it. I am only thinking of pain and suffering of a world lock down is going to do to everyone. Of course some lock downs in certain sectors are the best course, care homes for example. All the information, and news coverage is helping to save lives, but at the same time, leaves me royally annoyed that we haven’t given the flu this kind of attention.

    1. Jon Fox – please take 5 minutes and compare the death rates of corona vs flu viruses.
      ThirdmanJW is completely correct.

    2. TMJW – I fear your excellent sarcastic/ironic headline will actually be taken seriously by some on here. LOL.
      You see they only look at the headlines and a couple of paragraphs below them before jumping to their panic-stricken conclusions.
      Looks like there are only a few of us who are able to, or willing to, delve deeper, below the headlines and actually think this thing through.
      Luckily I live in a community of ex-pats from all over the world, most over 60, who don’t give a fig about the virus. ‘What’s all the freakin’ fuss about?’ seems to be the prevalent thought. None of them are taking the slightest precautions and instead are very annoyed by the latest instruction from the idiots-that-be which instructs all over 60s to be out of the pubs by 3pm. So at 2.55pm I’m fine and at 3.05 I’m done for!!?? Wish someone would explain the reasoning behind that!

  3. Don’t want to sound like a depressant but this outbreak hasn’t peaked yet. For someone like me, 70 in June but still fit and active, the prospect of staying in is demoralising. For Liverpool fans this outbreak couldn’t have come along at a worst time. I know there’s more important issues at stake than football but this is a football forum. I can’t see how the Premier League can finish. Personally i can’t see football resuming this year, they’ll be left with no other alternative but to make this season null and void. A bit like the situation after the 2nd World War although then only a handful of games had been played. What’s going to happen with promotion and relegation under a null and void situation. If the Premier League or FA start handing out titles and start deciding who’s up and who’s down can you imagine the legal challenges they’ll face. Where’s Sir Henry Norris when you need him?

  4. Just like to say a big thank you to people like Sue and all the workers of our fantastic and brave NHS who are being asked to go beyond the call of duty at these very demanding times.

  5. Agree with you Jon, a really sensible and thought provoking article… especially if you remember that Pat is reporting on a situation that we in this country have still yet to face.

    With regards to the footballing side of the article, everything Pat says is relevant and true in my opinion – but isn’t this uncertainty true about every walk of life at present?SueP touched on the subject of law and order recently and her prognosis put everything in stark reality.
    One thing is for sure, our overpaid premier league players could certainly take a year or two living off their salaries and reflecting on the plight of the “common man/woman” without to much hardship.

    If an antidote can be found, tested and proven in record time, then we might just be able to to handle the issues, but it normally takes two years, as a mean average, for a new drug to pass the rigours of our health testing regulations.

    That’s why we shouldn’t dismiss out of hand trumps idea of testing the malaria drug, as it has a proven record, albeit not on corona virus.

    I also understand TMJW’s concerns and views, but until we get this pandemic under control, everything else needs to take second place.

  6. ThirdmanJW @ gunnerjack you’re the two wierdos here who who think this Covid-19 is a joke,your comments are pathetic like ‘why shut down with so few deaths’ Someone said do not always listen to the advice of old people because even foolish people grow old.So I ignore your sentiments.Emirates the biggest airline company and that sponsors many teams in Europe has suspended all its flight go tell them few people have died australia again yours is wisdom of fools.

    1. Counsel, Thank the Lord that most folk are like you, sensible and compassionate. I feel sick to my stomach that some humans are so utterly callous and heartless, as well as plain stupid, as both Gunner Jack and TMJW are being on this matter. Ultimately and assuming, as I much hope, they both come through unscathed, unless they change their life values they are doomed never to find true human fulfillment. Terribly sad , esp as neither are young, it seems. It also seems neither has the basic ability to follow clear directions of travel and thus see the terrible death rate and tragedy this virus is taking on our race.

      1. How dare you jon fox! I have worked in care for years and so many suffer and die, and people outside of health do nothing! I clearly have far more compassion than you abd others because am trying to give the flu the exposure it needs, when the rest only care for Corona sufferers…because its trending!

        As I keep saying, will you all want lock downs every year when the flu hits to save lives? I hope so jon. If you have true compassion, I hope in 9 months time that you’ll be calling for self isolation and a ban on almost everything.

    2. Missed my point completely Counsel! People do absolutely nothing year-on-year when hundreds of thousands die from another similar highly contagious disease…the flu. All this compassion for Corona, but let’s ignore the flu! It’s an absolute disgrace!

      I am glad certain measures are being taken place, but why not with the flu?

      1. TMJW, I worked in the healthcare sector for nearly thirty years and your description of doing nothing about the flu, is completely wrong and misleading.

        Due to my age, the NHS provides me with a free immunisation jab every year and have done for the last nine years.
        There are studies continually being carried out on the different types of flu viruses, hence there has been no pandemic since the asian flu outbreak – the world acted.

        As far as I am aware, there has never been a sugar pandemic, but if there was, the simple remedy would be to stop using it – there is no remedy, as yet, for corona virus.

        In actual fact, sugar plays an important part in keeping type one diabetics alive, just one of it’s positive uses.

        To date, no positives have resulted from the corona virus and you will see, without question, the rise in reported cases and deaths continue until we get it under control.

        1. Just read this Ken and had to say what a sheer relief to read so much sense put into TRUE context too. Events across the wide world are daily proving the sheer callousness and stupidity of Gunner Jack and of those ver few who agree with him, prominent among them being TMJW. Shame on them!

  7. Football will survive if the human race survives, simple as that.
    This is the biggest threat to the world since WW2 but some people here are just not getting it. The number of deaths is not the immediate problem, it’s the strain on the Heath services of every country being stretched to the limit. It’s shortages of essential food stuffs and the means to sell it and transport it. We have 2-3 weeks before we are where Italy is at present, with hundreds of deaths every day. Unfortunately until lots of people in the UK start dying in hundreds a day the populous won’t get it. I walked to the cemetery today to see my mum, avoiding anyone anywhere near approaching me but then I see groups of 10-12 people all huddled together not giving a fig about social distancing. Shops are rammed with people all barging each other about. The penny will drop very soon. Football is a minor consideration at present but if and when it returns I think it will be entirely different to what we’ve been used to. Transfer fees will drop drastically, teams will likely swap players with no money exchanged, revenues will reduce as big companies go out of business or reduce their sponsorship and spending. As for this season? In my opinion it’s finished, no more games. What’s the point of playing to empty stadiums, you still need staff there, the players will be in close proximity to each other, do they all play in Tyvek suits and face masks? Football will survive if we survive, the question is if and when that might be?

      1. Thanks Jon, I appreciate your input always and even in these gloomy times I’m still laughing at your description of Sokratis in a previous thread. One of the funniest comments on here ever.

    1. You are correct GB. It is the hysterical overreaction to the virus which is the biggest threat and will cause the most harm to people, not the virus itself which is nothing special.

    2. GB
      So you’ve seen ‘groups of 10-12 people all huddled together not giving a fig about social distancing. Shops are rammed with people all barging each other about.’ Well it’s about time too.
      Hopefully, as you say, the penny will drop very soon and more and more people will be saying ‘Just a minute. I’ve seen so many people gathering together on a regular basis and they have no problems whatsoever. Who’s been feeding us all this ‘deadly killer virus’ ‘the world’s coming to an end’ and ‘social distancing’ rubbish? Apart from the elderly and those already very ill this virus is nothing special. Anyone up for a game of football in the park?’

      1. All those (mainly younger) people ignoring social distancing today won’t be dead tomorrow but could well be in the death statistics in a few weeks. Not only that, even if they get through it themselves, how many other people will they infect? You carry on with your footy game in the park and rubbishing of social distancing but I sincerely hope you don’t succumb to the virus. Stay sensible, stay well.

        1. No problem whatsoever for the majority of people. The key word being ‘majority’. People are dying every day from something or other, though it’s usually heart related.
          If we take football as an example (because footballers are thought of as being fitter than the rest of us) even they die suddenly and unexpectedly.
          You might want to go to Wikipedia and look for a list of footballers who died while playing. (You can do the same for athletes.) There’s quite a lot of them and not all heart related.
          Even young players are not immune:
          “Young footballers are dying from heart problems at a higher rate than was previously thought, according to doctors who oversee the cardiac screening programme for the Football Association.
          “Their evaluation of 20 years of screening young footballers at the age of 16 who are on the verge of a professional career also shows that most died about seven years after a heart check that showed no problem.”
          As you can see, even those who are young, appear to be fit and healthy and have passed a heart check can still die. Seven years later! That’s Mother Nature for you.
          To sum up, anyone can die at anytime from anything. But please feel free to carry on with your hysteria. For me, having the ‘fear virus’, like you and some others on here, is far worse than the chance of contracting the coronavirus.

  8. The cracks in the way football is organised in England have been apparent for sometime with a trail of small clubs becoming bankrupt and at the other end clubs being allowed to be funded by money they do not earn. Then it seems that any would be asset stripper can take control of a club and bring it down, while the Football league and FA look on,.
    Then there is the fact that the management that controls football is not responsible to anyone but themselves aided and abetted by the silent media, which must surely know ‘the inside story of the Football League Management and the FA’.

    i think as a result of covet19 many small clubs will fold unless the management decides to step
    in with a rescue plan. Clubs that are neither small or big but in considerable debt could also become bankrupt.

    The clubs that are bankrolled by outside sources will get want they want a “Europe Super League.”

    As for Arsenal. We are not bankrolled on the contrary for all we know we are ‘rolled over’. We will be left to enjoy the status of mediocre for the long term future aka Kronkie future/

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