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October 2020
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Just because the media says this will soon been fixed, doesn’t mean they are right

By Tony Attwood

The problem we have is that everything is interrelated.  The problem we have is a lot of people expect it all to be sorted out, “because it always is.”

Those two statements may seem completely separate but they are in fact part of a single big difficulty that is arising in relation to football.

As this crisis is making clear, everything in football is interrelated.  And just because a lot of journalists who normally spend their time wrongly predicting transfers are now predicting that all the current problems will quickly be fixed, that does not mean that they will.

For example, in their recent conference call Premier League accountants apparently told everyone ready to listen that the cost of not playing the rest of the suspended season would be over £1bn.   Three quarters of that is owed to TV companies.   The rest is sponsorship money and gate money, plus the cost of refunding season ticket holders.  And for the clubs that have sold players on instalments (as most players are sold), the difficulty that arises when a big club simply says, “sorry we don’t have the cash.”

Players are sold at their perceived value on the day of sale, but the money is normally paid over four years.  So at any moment Arsenal might owe money to ten or 15 clubs, and have a similar number of clubs owing them money.

Arsenal are not hard up as things stand, but it only takes the deferral of TV money, or several of the players whom Arsenal have sold, to have their new clubs not pay up, and the system begins to creak.  The excuse given is not “we won’t pay you” because that would mean a declaration of intent to drop out of the League system.  Rather it is “we simply can’t pay you,” on the grounds that other clubs have not paid them, and the banks won’t lend them any more.

And in a way one can appreciate the banks’ position.  If the banks run out of money because they have lent it to football clubs, that is hardly going to enhance their reputation with the business community and non-football going public.

So to give two specific examples, consider these. DAZN holds the rights to stream Premier League games in Brazil, Canada, Japan and Spain.   It is being asked by the Premier League for its next payment.  It is saying “no” because it isn’t receiving the product.

Wolverhampton, as we have repeated before, has borrowed money guaranteed by next season’s TV income.  But that was with the assumption that this season’s money would all be paid on time, which it isn’t.  Wolverhampton still has that debt, and now can’t repay it.

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Then there is the threat of collection action.   In the past that used to mean workers going on strike.  Now it suggests that the clubs might band together to cut all players’ salaries until the crisis is over.  One might expect a vigorous response from their trade union.

So, the total loss to the Premier League if it doesn’t run the rest of the season is £1.137bn.  And it can’t just say it will wait however long it will take, because Uefa and Fifa demand players play in their competitions too, and sponsors who want their pound of flesh for this season, want next season to start on time, or at most just a few weeks late.

Meanwhile the normal issues relating to relegation are all around us.  For example, players in teams that get relegated will normally get a cut of about half in their wages.  Another reason why they are not that keen to take a cut of one third now.

Clubs that are likely to get promotion or win something, want the bonus the promotion brings or the prize money from winning the trophy.

Meanwhile, the notion of simply “extending the season” beyond the end of June keeps popping up, but those in the know and their lawyers keep saying “that just can’t happen” not least because many players will have contracts expiring on June 30.  So clubs wanting to keep players to play in an extended season will want to offer players short extensions.  Players facing uncertainty in a collapsing market will want at least one season extra.  Not least because if a player gets injured playing in the end of season games after 30 June he could be out for a while – and without pay, if his contract runs out.

Clubs also don’t want an extended contract arrangement because that player then takes up one of their 25 positions next season, or sits around doing nothing but earning money.

Plus in a recent report from Fifa there were concerns about the date of opening the next transfer window not being knocked out by the old season still continuing.

And here’s another little legal issue.  A lot of contracts these days acknowledge overtly or implicitly the issue of “frustrated agreements”.  This applies because contracts simply cannot be fulfilled.

The most obvious example occurs when a person has signed a contract to do something but dies – the organisation he is contracted to, cannot normally sue the estate of the deceased person for breach of contract.  So if Fifa acknowledges that contracts can be set aside because the coronavirus is an unforeseen event which makes it impossible for the contract to be completed, then no one can sue anyone.

But the TV companies will probably try and sue, and those cases could drag on for years.  But meanwhile clubs won’t be able to sue other clubs for not making transfer payments.

It’s all a bit messy.

 

6 comments to Just because the media says this will soon been fixed, doesn’t mean they are right

  • Chri

    Tony,

    considering the stratospheric competence of the players’ trade-union’s representative and organisation, I would not make any bets about how this will pan out…
    Then again, the players will have only themselves to blame…
    I’d say their defense is like Tottenham’s was as per Google’s definition : lackadaisical

    Maybe they’ll one day elect to hire someone who will relly represent and defend them.
    Like it happens in the US.

  • Gord

    One thing the medja seem to be getting wrong, is what social distancing is supposed to accomplish. Or maybe there is a disconnect on my part?

    Social distancing is depriving the virus of cell hosts in which to multiply. It isn’t “killing” the virus.

    Lots of places mention that in winter, the viruses we catch for a ‘cold’ are typically a rhinovirus, while in summer they are often an enterovirus (relative of polio, but doesn’t cause polio). To say this, still avoids the question; how does a rhinovirus survive the summer (and ignores enterovirus). Either the rhinovirus is finding an environment to go into stasis in, or it is recreated from other sources every year (which explains how it morphs from year to year). The flu virus is known to be one which gets created new every “season”. The flu vaccine we get, is typically a guess (3?) at a small number of flu virus possibilities for the upcoming season. If one of the guesses is correct (or close enough), we get protection. Close enough could vary with the person.

    For COVID-19 to start morphing, it needs to find one (or more) co-host species in each region it is found. Most discussions of COVID-19 don’t consider other species. There was some blurb about a tiger at a zoo testing positive.

    For me, what this social distancing on the first wave is mostly about, it to buy time for treatments of symptoms to be developed and work to start on vaccines. Hence, the idea that we will have the season restart in some small number of weeks is nonsense. If people get admitted to hospital for COVID-19 exposure, it is to have their symptoms treated. They are really not having the virus treated. In the near term, medicine may come up with more effective treatments for symptoms of COVID-19. What is needed, are treatments for the virus, not just symptoms of the virus.

    Maybe some of the more medical people on this list can comment on this. My exposure to medicine is more along the lines of athletic first aid and physiotherapy. I do know more pharmaceutical chemistry than I should, because I did work with pharmaceutical chemists at a research nuclear reactor at one time.

    —-

    Familiar with arXiv (the physics (and other) preprint server? There is another one out now, for medical type topics. They have a preprint out, looking to see if fudging of data by countries seems likely:

    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.14.20036178v2

    Why bring up this paper? Among other things, UntoldArsenal is looking to catch people cheating with statistics. This paper is about something a lot more important than football, and people are still cheating, or being careless or inaccurate. We should be glad that 😈 Mike Riley does not run the World Health Organization.

    You can download a PDF from that link. On my computer, the PDF is really zoomed in, fit to page width fixed a lot.

    Who knows whether the results seen at places like the Johns Hopkins dashboard are correct, or if this reformatting is going to be a topic of interest for years to come. I would guess this data was started to be worked up on March 31 or April 1 (I am guessing).

    Country _ReportedCases _VF _ AdjustedCases
    China _ _ 82,198 _ _ _ _0.69 _ 325,452
    France _ _45,170 _ _ _ _1.38 _ 676,839
    Italy _ _101,739 _ _ _ _1.57 _ 965,113
    Spain _ _ 87,956 _ _ _ _1.36 1,421,505
    USA _ _ _161,807 _ _ _ _1.07 1,417,635
    Germany _ 66,885 _ _ _ _1.48 _ 222,068
    UK _ _ _ _22,453 _ _ _ _1.24 _ 316,556

    The reported reported case sum for those 7 countries is 568,299. Maybe the rest of the bunch is 130,000; so the world total was about 700,000. The adjusted sum for the above 7 countries is almost 10 times bigger at 5.3 million, and I will guess the world total would be something like 7 million (or more?).

    On the basis of the adjusted numbers, we are at about 1.4% of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic.

    Nominally, the adjustment comes from it being hard to hide bodies (and the gender/age of the body). I guess a side effect, is that if these adjusted numbers are closer to the truth; we have a lot more carriers and supposedly recovered people in the general population. If recovering lends immunity; things are probably not too bad. But, I haven’t stumbled across much information on re-infection of recovered people.

    The Spanish flue ran 35 months. We are at about 3 months now.

  • Kenward Garg

    Respect to you, Gord.

  • Gord

    For a couple of days now, there has been news of an anti-viral medication which seems to stop this coronavirus from replicating. The biggest problem with it, is that it is intravenous only. Today, I seen a news article about another anti-viral about to enter wider testing, which also stops replication. The good point, is it is a pill.

  • Gord

    Washington Post has a nice article on how some problems in accounting for COVID-19 deaths can arise.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/03/27/those-covid-19-death-toll-figures-are-incomplete/

    They note in passing, how the DONALD like to confuse and conflate everything.

  • Gord

    On March 25, The Atlantic (not to be confused with The Athletic (Supporter) which Tony has mentioned a few times) had an article on what had been done to date (mostly in the USA) on the COVID-19 crisis. Seems a good read.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/03/how-will-coronavirus-end/608719/

    Like most things from the USA, it is a bit too USA centric.