Premier League remains on break due to COVID-19 outbreak

What Happens When The Premier League Returns?

It is one of so many questions being asked which, quite frankly, none of us know the answer to – not least, some of the clubs themselves.

However, I’m not talking about the actual Premier League action – it’s been over a month since we last had a weekend of that and it will be even longer before it resumes.

And I’m not talking about how the SBOBET Premier League betting odds may look if and when play resumes.

Yes, some intriguing aspects remain, not least the competition for European places and the fight for Premier League survival which is one of the closest in recent years.

Although the drop to the Championship is looking increasingly unavoidable for Norwich, with Daniel Farke’s side bottom of the table with 21 points and six from safety, it is anyone’s guess which teams will join them.

Despite sitting one place above the Canaries with 25 points, Aston Villa are just four behind 15th-placed Brighton and possess a game in hand on their fellow relegation rivals.

Meanwhile, West Ham, Watford and Bournemouth are only separated by goal difference as all three teams find themselves on 27 points.

Again though, that is not up for discussion, nor a priority, here.

What I am talking about is what state certain clubs will be in when the COVID-19 pandemic eases and association football restarts – whether a continuation of 2019/20 or the start of a new campaign.

Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville last month described as “inconceivable” the suggestion football will start again before June, even though there remains hope from all top flight leagues across Europe to finish the season by June 30.

With the European Championships and Olympics being postponed until 2021, football bodies are keen to get the current season finished.

Yet as Neville rightly says, a lot of things have to happen before authorities even contemplate playing behind closed doors, let alone in front of spectators again.

The outbreak is having such a huge impact on the English top flight that it seems inconceivable that only 31 days ago the football season and the Cheltenham Festival were in full swing.

Now some people watch virtual racing while the beautiful game tears itself apart craving for the days when Premier League highlights were a regular occurrence.

There are so many negatives alongside the obvious positives.

Premier League fans wonder about the state of the club when the season returns after COVID-19

View on Etihad Stadium ticketing office being closed after Premier League suspended games

For every Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson leading by example with significant pay cuts being donated to the National Health Service; for everyone in the #playerstogether initiative such as Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford and Kevin de Bruyne raising millions for NHS-related charities; for every member of Southampton’s squad deferring 10 per cent of their salary for three months, there are certain clubs abusing the system.

Take league leaders Liverpool which made a £42 million in profit last year alone. For a club which holds itself up as ‘something more’, it took a major misstep in its decision to furlough non-playing staff. Despite a U-turn after pressure, it spoke of a lack of integrity.

Likewise, the behaviour of the owners of Spurs and Newcastle United have shamefully exposed the opportunistic and capitalist morals that, in all probability, made them very wealthy in the first place.

Realistically, all leading clubs should have enough in reserve to see them through this period, better insulated than most against loss of gate and matchday income.

There is also an onus on players to take cuts to help their respective employers mitigate the negative economic effect of this health crisis.

In contrast, not all Premier League clubs are in the same boat.

Many have a severely negative asset value – in other words, they’re in debt up to the hilt – with Brighton the worst afflicted of all by a considerable distance.

Their negative asset value is £223,072, which means the club will survive only as long as owner Tony Bloom can put his hand in his pocket. He has already ploughed £300million into the club and currently finds his businesses in the leisure sector severely affected by the crisis.

That means paying salaries could be far from straightforward for a number of clubs who will be struggling for alternative breakthroughs on the enormous wage burden which sees the average Premier League player rewarded to the tune of £60,000 a week.

Some of the smaller clubs in the Premier League, let alone the lower leagues, need to go into furlough to protect themselves and the livelihood of their employers.

There is not even a guarantee of a summer pot of money either with some set to miss out on tens of millions in prize money due to this summer’s International Champions Cup being cancelled amid the pandemic.

Teams have pocketed up to £16 million for taking part in the pre-season tournament each year since it began in 2013, with Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur among the previous winners.

It will be some time before the final damage caused by COVID-19 is known. A certainty though is that, when the Premier League finally does return, it could be a very different landscape for all bar the leading players.

 

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