By Tony Attwood
Very, very slowly newspapers and online commentators are starting to think – if this all goes very wrong, some clubs could lose a lot of money. They are not yet asking “And then what?” but it is a step in the right direction.
And when we start looking at how much money clubs could lose from broadcasting, matchday revenue and commercial income if games are not played, one thing is quite interesting. The clubs with the least to lose (Brighton, Watford, Aston Villa and Bournemouth), have either already started laying off staff, or are about to.
The clubs with the most to lose if the rest of this season is not played out shortly, are the clubs that can most afford it. Manchester United will lose £116m or thereabouts, but they have their worldwide fan base, and they will quickly make the money up. They’ll probably offer a new commemorative coronavirus shutdown kit.
Manchester City are in second position, and they are estimated to lose around £109m, but they have the oil wealth of their owners who don’t seem to mind too much about rules, and they’ll put in what it takes. It will probably be leftover change from helping out their airline.
Liverpool made more profit than anyone in football has ever done a couple of seasons back, so even with their stadium expansion programme, they’ll be able to afford the £102m.
Likewise in fifth position, there is Chelsea and as long as the owner is interested and doesn’t go down with the virus, they should be ok for the £91m shortfall – especially as now they have seemingly abandoned all plans to build a new stadium on the site of the old one. But what is Mr Abramovich’s vision now he’s not got a visa to work here? It would be interesting to know.
Then there is Tottenham. They have built the stadium, and it has left them with a huge debt, which they were imagining they would start paying off with the final £83m this season from TV, matchday and commercial revenues. But that is not coming through. It might of course, but there’s no sign at the moment. Do they have the resources to pay the interest on the stadium, with nothing coming in?
We’re next with £75m down the swanee. The owner is rich, but, and here’s the thing, all his investments are in sports, and all sports have stopped. So it is not just Arsenal that needs bailing out. It is everyone. What will he do? Sell a club?
Leicester who are losing £55m have rich owners too, but they are based in retail at airports, as I understand it, so that income has dried up as well. They might be in trouble just like Arsenal and Tottenham. “Money” and “one basket” plus the bit about “not putting” all come to mind.
Burnley are next surprisingly with a loss of £50m. How on earth are they going to make that up? I simply have no idea – and here’s the thing with them – I have not seen too many articles discussing how they will survive.
Wolverhampton are on £49m lost revenue, and as I have mentioned before they have just borrowed another shedload at interesting interest rates, which needs paying back at the start of the season when the next round of TV money arrives. So they needed to borrow, even before the £49m was lost. That’s interesting.
Everton are on £42m loss, with major plans for their stadium. I bet they are thrilled that the stadium never got going (indeed I could never work out how much it would cost). But if they can take that hit without any concern, they will be fine. But there’s a bigger problem for Sheffield United on a very similar loss, but as far as I know, not much in reserve to deal with that.
Newcastle have already cut the staff and let the state take the strain, while they think what to do about a current lack of £40m, while West Ham, who as we know pay so little for their stadium they probably use the money from beer sales to meet the rent demands, will lose £37m, as will Palace.
But this bottom group in terms of losses, although having budgeted for less income, will still feel these losses very keenly – which is where we started by looking at the lower levels of loss which meets the faster move into laying off staff. Southampton on £32m losses in terms of rest of the season cash, can’t, as far as I can see, cope with that, nor can Brighton on £29m.
But here’s the thing. If the season is played through and clubs get some of that money back, three of them will still go down. Will they survive the drop in income this season, and the drop? I am not sure that is guaranteed.
This is what comes from living on the edge. There’s very little space to manoeuvre when the crisis hits.
- The home and away scandal: ignorance, or cover up?
- The reason why Liverpool and Man C are ahead of Arsenal.
- How which referee a club gets has a major impact on the result of each game
- The statistical evidence that shows PGMO are biased against Arsenal
- How European football has taken up the fight against clubs breaking FFP