News   |    July 21st, 2021

Who said it was easy?

Our Chairman Peter Varney shares his views on the re-start of the football season…

If the football season does re-start in June, it is estimated that it will take EFL clubs 56 days to complete their fixtures.

That said, it is by no means certain players who are out of contract on 30th June will continue to play, and I would not blame them if they chose not to play unless certain guarantees are put in place. There needs to be absolute certainty that with players being in such close proximity during matches that there is no risk they can contract the Coronavirus. The truth is, it will not only be players in the stadium that deliver the matches but Police, Stewards, TV Personnel, Journalists, Physiotherapists, Kit Managers, Doctors, Paramedics and a lot more. Some of those people will be working in the health sector with the obvious dangers that presents.

Also, if a player plays when out of contract then who will pay for any medical care if he gets injured and who will compensate the player if he loses out on a new contract with a new club and suffers serious financial loss as a result.

What will be the status of players on loans from other clubs? Will those parent clubs want them to return home, so to speak, and if they do that could seriously affect some clubs who have taken up their full quota of five loan players and have a major impact on promotion and relegation issues with all the financial consequences that will bring.

It is by no means certain that clubs will agree to fulfil their fixtures. It costs significant sums to stage matches under the terms of clubs’ safety certificates and without gate receipts clubs will be making losses. Yes, some money has filtered down to EFL Clubs from the Premier League, but these are loans that have to be repaid so clubs will have to factor that into their planning and their actions. Football needs to come together to address these issues quickly.

One of the other challenges in the background, that will have a profound financial effect, is the attitude of sponsors and advertisers. For many clubs their sponsorship and advertising agreements will expire on 31st May or 30th June. What is not clear is whether sponsors and advertisers will look for refunds as they have not had their contractual obligations met because of the shirts and other branding not being seen on TV or the perimeter or programme advertising. Don’t forget many of these companies will themselves be suffering during the current crisis. Even if they do not seek refunds many may seek a credit against next season’s sponsorship and advertising costs. Then again in these difficult times that will be one of the first things companies will cut from their budgets.

There is also the actions of season ticket holders and executive box holders who will not be able to see several matches they have paid to watch. Hopefully, most fans will not seek refunds as they look to help their clubs get through the current difficulties, but it is inevitable some will. Once you repay some you have to repay all and if you don’t repay then legally the season ticket holder can claim a refund. In short just playing the games and finishing the season may well not be nearly as straight forward as some may think.

If you are interested in the services Integral Sports Management provides, please contact Head of Football Operations Mark Arber

E: marber@integralsportsmanagement.co.uk

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