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October 2020
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The problems with restart

by Tony Attwood

According to a report in the Telegraph, “Premier League clubs have been left stunned after being told that they could have to repay £350 million to the broadcasters – even if the season is completed behind closed doors.”

Apparently this scenario was set out in a presentation given by the Premier League on Monday this week.  Sky and BT sport and international broadcasters who also have rights to Premier League games on TV are saying that the way the remaining 92 Premier League games are being presented is not in accordance with the contract between clubs and TV stations, which incorporates the times and days of the week games will be shown and states that the stadia will be open to the public.

As is now established, the refund from the clubs to the League will be £762m if no games are played – on average £38.1m a club, although there are adjustments for the number of times each club appears.  The Premier League clubs have pretty much made it clear that in general, they cannot repay the money.

This is because many have already spent it.  Indeed as I’ve quoted several times name, Wolverhampton has also already spent the first payment of next season’s TV deal.   That’s the only club we have picked up evidence of, but it seems more than likely that other clubs which are anxious to avoid relegation or get a European spot, have done much the same.

But there is a problem, for in the Telegraph David Jamieson, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, said that it is “inconceivable” that (in the words of the newspaper) “supporters will not flock to matches being held at home grounds”,

He added that ghost matches at the normal grounds of clubs are “fraught with hazards” as he said football’s return could put a major strain on stretched police forces.   This was in response to talks earlier this walk on abandoning the idea of neutral venues for games.

However the Daily Mail today says that players “face PERMANENT pay cuts if Project Restart fails and 2019-20 season is curtailed…” (sorry about the random words in CAPITALS it’s just a thing the Mail does – I do wish they’d fix their typesetting machine).

They continue, “some Premier League teams have even told their stars they face losing their playing contracts altogether as they spelt out the stark financial implications of not restarting the season.”

However the Mail did redeem itself somewhat with this lovely line: ” if you want to make a bad situation worse, it’s always worth getting the Football Association involved.”

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Apparently, the paper said that “Greg Clarke, the FA chairman, told Premier League clubs the governing body would not sanction a season without promotion or relegation. Despite the fact it already has.”

It reaches this conclusion because “There was no objection from the FA to the decision which cancelled affairs in the Combined Counties League Division One for instance and with it the promotion of Jersey Bulls,” (in the Channel Islands).

Here’s the full Mail rant against points per game.

“If football does not recommence — and it is far from certain — Bournemouth would go down on 0.04 of a conceded goal. Statistics could become very important in the coming weeks, yet nobody in football seems very keen to use the principles of statistical analysis.

“Points per game. That is the likely deciding factor. A method of calculation so spectacularly shallow it does not take into account recent form, opposition, location, or any of the large number of external influences that contribute to a result.”

The problem with that approach is that everything is arbitrary.   Three points for a win is just a device – it used to be two.   Goal difference is just a device – we used to have goal average.

The Mail’s conclusion, after what is really quite a fun to-and-fro which goes nowhere at all, is that “if, after a full complement of games, home and away, Leeds are up and Norwich are down, that is fair. It may be a strangely hollow end to the season without fans and noise as its backdrop, but football will have done its best in horrible circumstances.

“Ending the season any other way, however, demonstrates scant feeling for fairness or consequence and a desperate need for action and drama.

“Although much of that may later unfold in a courtroom if the FA continues wielding its power so randomly.”

Alternatively, someone could sue all those involved in the Leagues and FA who never bothered to set up rules in advance of what should happen if the season could not be completed.   And when you think of it that is not that unlikely in a world of climate change, supervolcanoes, and, well, the FA.

5 comments to The problems with restart

  • Mike T

    Really interesting topics covered by Tony

    Sorry about the long post but sat in the garden with the sun blazing down had time to ramble on in such a way.

    In the trade ( I had to look it up ) what Wolves have taken advantage of is called “ Transfer Financing, Media & Sponsorship Monetisation “

    Some argue it’s sound business to borrow in such a way.Their argument is that it’s no more than an overdraft with the capital secured against money that is “guaranteed“ ( like that word in the current climate) income.

    There were four major movers in providing this sort of finance :

    The Vibrac Corporation . ( They don’t nowadays seem to be as active or indeed active at all)

    XXIII Capital

    Rights & Media Funding

    Macquarie .

    Macquarie is an Australian Company with a London Office and now seem to be the major player both within Europe They are said to have invested circa $ 1 .5 billion in European sports and in the EPL are the seconded biggest lenders after Barclays.

    In terms of advancing TV monies it seems that Bournemouth, Palace, Sheffield Utd, Southampton, Watford and Wolves have accessed advance TV monies from Macquarie.

    I believe, I might be wrong in terms of what they have used to borrow against but Everton have a charge registered against them and held by Rights and Media Funding. Everton historically have borrowed in such a way.

    In most instances when companies/ football clubs want to borrow money the lender wants some sort of guarantee. The lender will likely insist that they secure against an asset or in the cases of football clubs it seems future income. Any charge registered
    has to be renewed every 6 months.

    Without delving into each clubs accounts It’s difficult to know exactly what the clubs have used as security but when you start to look deeper the number of clubs that owe in respect of the likes of transfer fees still owed to them, advance TV or Sponsorship monies is quite revealing.

    In the main the supposed top6 alongside clubs like Villa, Norwich and Newcastle access borrowing through conventional banks. So nothing really to be seen here but in 2004 ( I guess money was needed quickly and almost certainly re the stadium build ) Arsenal borrowed against future TV and Shirt Sponsors money. It was a very short term agreement of maybe a month or two.

    Leicester is the one that is interesting because they have 4 separate charges levied against them by Macquarie. It seems the first time they accessed funds was when they sold Mahrez to City and they, Leicester, borrowed against the second and subsequent instalments of the fee,

    So back I guess to the question what on earth happens to these clubs if TV money, Sponsorship and even maybe promised transfer fees are paid to then.

    The FA point about promotion or relegation is interesting.

    Indeed from level 1 ( The league below EFL2.) have all had their seasons cancelled.

    Downwards from level 3 Southern league Premier, Northern Premier and Ishmian League . ) the records have been expunged. As Tony says all agreed by the FA.

    We know that in all likelihood that Bury will be replaced in the EFL set up and it’s likely the PPG will have to be used to determine which club will move up a league.So I suspect Barrow to be promoted.

    Sadly I suspect one two or more clubs be they in the EFL or lower down won’t survive. Indeed ao was told that one ex league club currently plying their trade in the National League has a weekly wage bill of £35k and another has close to 100 full time paid staff. Madness

    The interesting thing is that the question of who replaces who in such circumstances used to be determined by each league’s management committees but nowadays the FA is in far greater control of such things the hint very much from UEFA that in such circumstances the 19/20 performances, even if the season is cancelled, has to used to determine such matters.

    If the PL and the EFL aren’t completed then I doubt very much that there will be any forced relegation but I really think the there will be promotions based on PPG to fill any vacated places in the next league up.

  • Mike T

    So back I guess to the question what on earth happens to these clubs if TV money, Sponsorship and even maybe promised transfer fees ARE’NT paid to then?

  • Uncle Mike

    If it bleeds (cash), it’s Leeds (in 2003).

  • Gooner forever

    Your quotes are from an article written by Martin Samuel and not from the Daily Mail per se
    Martin Samuel is an award winning sports columnist
    You may wish to make the distinction

  • Nitram

    I’ve often wondered what it is these hacks actually win awards for.

    In Samuels case I suspect it’s for his uncanny ability to stand on his head and talk out of his arse whilst at the same time managing to stick his tongue up Mourinhos !

    It surely isn’t for his scribbling.