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October 2020
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In desperation, Uefa’s “TV Solution” is being considered

by Tony Attwood

Uefa is bringing pressure to bear on European leagues by suggesting that any leagues that do not complete their 2019/20 fixtures may be excluded from the Champions League and Europa League for next season.  This follows the decision by the Belgian League to abandon the 2019/20 season, and declare the league table as it stood when matches were stopped, the final league table.

Of course this could be a bluff, because Uefa knows perfectly well that if two or more of the top leagues join with Belgium and resist this directive, Uefa will have a Champions League that is not properly representative and will be diminished in value.  Sponsors, now under huge financial pressure, might well decide to give the Champions League a miss in 2020/1.

But Uefa needs its money and so is trying the ploy to see what happens, stressing that League games for 2019/20 could continue until as late as August.   The point being of course that sponsorship money for 2019/20 has already been paid by the sponsors, so all that matters is arranging things so that sponsors can’t sue for a refund.

What’s more the proposal to return to full action next season takes no account of the financial state of either the clubs or the sponsors.  It only reflects the desperate position of Uefa itself which needs the income from the Champions League each year.  Without it, Uefa could be in real trouble.

The top men in Uefa wrote, “We are confident that football can restart in the months to come – with conditions that will be dictated by public authorities – and believe that any decision of abandoning domestic competitions is, at this stage, premature and not justified.

“Since participation in Uefa club competitions is determined by the sporting result achieved at the end of a full domestic competition, a premature termination would cast doubts about the fulfilment of such condition. Uefa reserves the right to assess the entitlement of clubs to be admitted to the 2020-21 Uefa club competitions, in accordance with the relevant applicable competition regulations.”

Uefa has at least admitted that the current situation is unprecedented, and is not covered by their rulebook, but it retains the belief that it can make up rules as it goes along, and ride roughshod over the financial concerns of the clubs, and the public health implications.

So the plan remains to complete the national leagues, then complete the Champions League and Europa League immediately after that.

But of course finances play a part in all this, and indeed so desperate is the financial situation in football across Europe becoming that it seems the Premier League is now ready to consider even the most bonkers approach to getting money – although they are not quite ready for us to talk about it yet.

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For their solution would be to order all the Premier League clubs to put their squads into isolated hotels.

Then, day after day after day there would be a series of games, all of which would be available to be televised, so that the clubs did not have to pay back the TV companies to compensate for the lack of games.

Thus each match day would run across maybe three days, and would be played behind closed doors, but every game would have its own individual slot on TV.

The idea is that just two locations would be used so the old home/away idea would be abandoned, and because of the isolation, it would be possible (they claim) to keep the virus infections under control.

The whole process would last two months, take the players through to the end of the season, satisfy broadcasters and sponsors, and allow the clubs then to move back into their own grounds and start the 2020/1 season straight away.

Meanwhile, of course, the transfer window would also be open, so players would be moving from one club to another during the process – just like old times!

There are however multiple problems with this rough-shod approach.   The TV audiences for three or four matches a day across a three day period, followed by three or four matches a day over the next three day period, and on and on to the end of the season, might well be way below the normal numbers that TV stations get.   Likewise, sponsors have paid to have their logos etc seen by the paying public as well as by the TV audience.

Plus squads could well be stretched to the limits in order to play at this rate while being holed up in hotels and unable to see friends and family.  OK they do it in the world cup, but even then the gaps are bigger, and half the countries involved go home after three games.

A court case or two could well be in the offing if Uefa try to push this through.

6 comments to In desperation, Uefa’s “TV Solution” is being considered

  • Gord

    I believe Tony pointed out a long time ago, that the EPL TV contract was all paid out for 2019/20. Yesterday, Canal Plus said that it would not pay out the last 100 Million pounds it was still owing for TV rights in France (Ligue one), and shortly after that beIN Sports (from Qatar) also said that it would making its last installment either (in France).

    It isn’t Association Football, but USARugby filed for bankruptcy.

    It seems unlikely that the 2019/20 season can be finished. Players have tested positive for this virus, and no vaccine exists (yet). Other players have left (Son to military service in South Korea).

    I don’t think the 2020/21 season will be played. If for no other reason, that no vaccine exists.

  • Gord

    Word missing.

    … and shortly after that beIN Sports (from Qatar) also said that it would _NOT_ making its last installment either (in France).

  • Gord

    A couple of other points on when things get back to “normal”. Two situations were felt to be very dangerous to the world:
    1. COVID-19 in a refugee camp
    2. COVID-19 in a slum
    Two days ago, both incidents were in the news. A refugee camp in Greece has COVID-19, and a large slum (largest?) had a shopkeeper test positive.

  • Gord

    Hmmm, nobody else commenting here.

    Canada’s 4 biggest groups are (in order) Quebec, Ontario, BC, Alberta. The first two are both significantly bigger than the second 2 put together. The only jurisdiction which seems to be flirting with the peak of the curve is BC.

    Ontario (province of Canada) outlined some of the modelling they have been doing. In a typical year, they see 1350 deaths due to flu, and in a bad year about 1500 deaths. They are currently at 75 deaths, and they are thinking that they will see 15,000 at the most in this first wave (18-24 months). Ontario has about 15 million people.

    I don’t know that Ontario is doing an especially good or especially bad job. I also don’t know what influence being close to New York is having on them (same holds true for Quebec).

    England is about 4 times the population of Ontario, in much less land (England fits in Alberta 7 times, and Ontario is quite a bit bigger than Alberta). I would guess that social distancing is going to have more problems getting COVID-19 under control in England. On the basis of population, England can probably expect 60,000 deaths (pessimistic, no allowance for size ratio differences).

    I think because England is so much smaller area wise, it is probably going to take you at least 50% longer to get things under control (no vaccine), and I think I’ll stick with 60k deaths but instead of pessimistic I’ll call that realistic. And I think it is going to take England up to 3 years to get this first wave dealt with. No 2020/21, no 2021/22, possibly no 2022/23.

    The wild card in all of this, is can a vaccine be produced? Lots of people think they have a head start on this. But until they actually get something, they don’t know If they get something, it still needs to be tested. Apparently some doctors in France thought that testing in Africa was a wonderful idea.

    Canada has a veterinary group at USask (I believe) that has been working on coronaviruses in animals for quite a while, they got 23Million in funding.

    If someone comes up with a safe vaccine, that can beat down these infection waves; we could see a return to football much sooner. But if the only tool we have is social distancing, we are going to be without football for a while. I cannot see football restarting without a safe vaccine.

    Case in point, Neymar. He is getting paid how much money? He catches COVID-19 and dies; can you imagine the lawsuit?

    I went looking at prior pandemics, I think the worst one killed 10% of humans. With all the inequity in the world (aka greed), I think we could easily see the same this time. 10% of the world population. Entire countries are going to get wiped off the map. The USA has an Idiot in Chief. Brazil has someone who wants to be just as big an idiot; Brazil touches most other countries of South America. Refugees fleeing the middle east conflicts have COVID-19 in a refugee camp. Just one as of today I believe, but who knows? One of the largest slums in the world (in India?) has COVID-19 in the slum.

    Football is going to be gone for a while. Maybe long enough that 😈 Mike Riley will have to get an entire new group of idjuts to do his calling. How many of these PGMO screwballs have to retire soon?

    Keep safe.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    I suppose there is an internal logic to UEFA’s thinking but to us on the outside this is transparently money driven, much like all the hullabaloo around who should take pay cuts .

    Off the top of my head I can think of several possible outcomes/questions:

    1) This benefits the clubs who have the deepest squads and amongst those the healthiest/fittest
    2) The compressed season and the matches all occurring 3 days apart will probably mean a compression of injury dates; clubs will have players going down all within the same period and potentially getting better at the same time.
    3) The following season’s results will hugely influenced by what happens in the 10 game period of the ‘end of the season, season’
    4) Will there be a ‘time off’ period for the players?
    5) Will there be a summer transfer window, in the middle of schedule?
    6) Will there be a pre-season? Because, if there isn’t going to be one, a team in mid-table obscurity (like Arsenal) would be forgiven for basically blowing off the latter part of this season and treat everything as preparation for the ‘next’ season. Short term pain for long term success.
    7) And, the perhaps the biggest elephant in the room…what happens if the game loses fans?…fans who after experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic and its concomitant deaths and economic hardships have drawn the conclusion that life exists beyond watching young, sheltered millionaires chase a ball, herded by a corrupt referee and directed by a cabal of deaf billionaires and corrupt world organizers, all in the confines of a 120 y by 80 y pitch.

  • Kenward Garg

    “Uefa has at least admitted that the current situation is unprecedented, and is not covered by their rulebook, but it retains the belief that it can make up rules as it goes along, and ride roughshod over the financial concerns of the clubs, and the public health implications.”

    You write this, which in my humble opinion is true, and yet you persist in slandering the hierarchy of Manchester City for retaliation in respect to its two year ban courtesy of the same organisation.