How football suspension is affecting smaller clubs

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Lower League clubs have been hard-hit by football suspension due to Coronavirus pandemic

The entire world has been brought to a standstill by the Coronavirus pandemic. The deadly virus has taken close to 19,000 lives across the globe, while there are over 422,000 confirmed cases, at the time of writing.

The breakout has had a disastrous effect on people from all walks of life and it is no different for the sporting world. Almost all events across the sportsbook have been suspended in an attempt to reduce the chances of infection.

Football, too, has followed suit, with all major leagues, such as the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A all being suspended, at least until the end of next month. UEFA competitions have also been stopped, with the Euro 2020 getting postponed to next year.

UEFA has postponed the Champions League, Europa League and the Euros

Given the dreadful situation that has been created due to the spread of the virus, the right call has been made to suspend all sporting activities. But, the financial implications of the decision could be devastating, especially for the smaller clubs that ply their trade in the lower leagues.

Not to say that the big clubs will have smooth sailing – they too will have to face repercussions by the suspension. But, it is the smaller clubs across the club that will be the most hard hit by this unpleasant development.

Unlike top-flight football across countries, most lower divisions do not have lucrative television broadcast deals in place. These clubs rely on ticket sales, hospitality, team merchandise sales and small sponsorship deals as their major source of income.

And with professional football getting suspended, most of these sources of revenue for the smaller clubs have been hit hard.

The situation has become so dire that there have been clubs that have asked players and staff to take a pay-cut until things return to normalcy.

Hearts have asked players to take a pay cut

Scottish outfit Hearts has requested its playing and non-playing staff to take a 50% pay-cut due to the financial implications from the football suspension. Fellow Scottish Premiership outfit Aberdeen are facing a £6m shortfall as a direct result of the postponements of events due to the pandemic. (h/t Daily Record)

National League side Barnet, in England, had to place all its non-playing staff – 60 in number – on notice in “emergency measures to preserve the club.” (h/t Guardian)

Casertana is one among a number of lower-league teams in the Italian third-division to have announced that they can no longer afford to pay players’ wages. (h/t Tutto Calcio Campana)

These are only a few instances of the financial difficulties that smaller clubs and teams from the lower divisions are having to face by the suspension and postponement of professional football.

Bundesliga outfit Borussia Monchengladbach players have taken a part wage deduction voluntarily, while footballers from fellow German clubs Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have followed suit. (h/t Mirror)

But, players in lower leagues, on much much lesser wages, may not be in a position to do so.

EFL Championship

The situation in the EFL Championship has become so precarious that, according to reputed journalist Duncan Castles, clubs have petitioned football authorities to the open transfer window immediately in response to Coronavirus-enforced suspension of football.

With finances hit hard, the clubs want to offload players and reduce their wage bills in order to prevent bankruptcy.

The EFL has announced a £50m relief package comprising the remaining TV and sponsorship money that was to be paid to clubs at the end of the season, in order to help clubs facing immediate cashflow problem due to the suspension. (h/t Guardian)

But the situation continues to be gloomy for the smaller clubs.

“Potentially some clubs are not going to survive this. We’ve got a large social facility with two function rooms and lots of clubs in non-league, and Leagues One and Two, rely on that income,” Steve Thompson, managing director of National League outfit Dagenham & Redbridge had said recently. (h/t Guardian)

One can only hope that it does not come down to that and the coronavirus pandemic blows over as soon as possible and a sense of normalcy is restored.

Raghavendra Goudar

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