Premier League: Michael Yochin on the consequences of the Corona crisis and the possibility of bringing about historic change

More than three months have passed since the last game in the Premier League. Harvey Barnes scored the final goal in Leicester’s big win, 0-4 at Aston Villa on March 9, and since then a lot of water has passed in the Thames. Now, with the resumption of activity In the richest and most glittering league in the world, Very many questions hang in the air. What will be the impact of the Corona plague on English football sportingly, economically and socially? Which direction will the league go without an audience, with the health issue seemingly taking on secondary importance compared to the financial aspects? We will not receive the answers, of course, tonight (Wednesday starting at 10:05 p.m., Sports2) – but one can try to assess the situation with the required caution.

To begin with, as we look at the empty stands, it is important to understand that revenue from the sale of subscriptions and tickets is not particularly critical for Premier League clubs, and this applies to both the big teams at the top and those fighting against the drop to the bottom. The trend here is amazing on every scale. When the league was established with the current branding, ticket revenue in the games themselves accounted for about half of the clubs’ revenue. They were absolutely dependent on the crowd, and those who came to the stadiums formed their oxygen pipe. This rate has been steadily and steadily declining for a quarter of a century, and in 2019 subscribers and tickets contributed only 12 percent of club revenue.

Interestingly, it is precisely in the big clubs that this is a higher percentage, thanks to the high content of the stadiums. Arsenal led this aspect last season with 24 per cent of revenue, followed by Tottenham, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea. It is amazing to see that at Bournemouth and Burnley, which own the compact stadiums, the revenue that comes from the sale of subscriptions and tickets amounts to only about four percent.


Bournemouth fans (Gettyimages)

This is due, of course, to a relatively equal distribution of league revenue from the sale of broadcasting rights. Liverpool, for example, earned £ 220 million from broadcasting rights last season, while Bournemouth w received £ 119 million. Liverpool, on the other hand, earned £ 81 million from ticket sales, while at Bournemouth this figure stands at just £ 5 million. Thus, it is clear as day why the renewal of the league – even without an audience – is essential for all of them, and why it is especially critical for the little ones. The financial stability of clubs the size of Liverpool or Manchester United is higher anyway, and while Burnley, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace will not survive if they have to continue to pay huge sums to their players without receiving compensation from the TV.

However, the particular balance maintained in the major leagues further underscores the imbalance in the overall system. While Premier League clubs enjoy unprecedented wealth, teams in the third and fourth leagues are left far behind. They are still based on ticket sales revenue, as they all did in the ’70s and’ 80s. They still need every fan and fan. In fact, they were hit the hardest during the epidemic. While the two major leagues are back in action, the lower leagues have opted for the cancellation of the rest of the season because most clubs are unable to meet the high costs of holding games when the stands remain orphaned. Now, with no activity at all, these clubs are in existential danger.

“Clubs will fall one after the other, like dominoes,” predicted Simon Sadler, the new owner of Blackpool. “We will lose many clubs. The whole essence of football will be destroyed,” Fleetwood Town chairman Andy Philly predicted. So two important and urgent questions arise. , Or maybe most of the Premier League acquisitions are made from around the world anyway, so the disappearance of Blackpool and Fleetwood will not dramatically affect the richest league of them all? Maintain the existing order for the continued existence of English football, or perhaps also for net social reasons? Do Manchester United, Liverpool, Bournemouth and Burnley have a moral commitment to those who are far behind?


Will the clubs fall one by one? (Gettyimages)

And speaking of morality, many issues are at stake as the world order changes. They have been gradually neglected over the years, as English league clubs have become a celebration of dubious factors – from American billionaires through Russian oligarchs and investors from the Far East to Sheikhs from the Persian Gulf. Revenues have increased, as have transfer fees, player salaries and agents’ fees. Despite this, ticket prices have also risen – despite the fact that the importance of this revenue stream has become relatively marginal. Fans’ opinions became less relevant, and their voices were sometimes silenced. Now, precisely when they are far from the stands, the trend will change – because social issues are flooding the kingdom, as they are flooding the entire Western world.

And here, as the weeks go by, a positive trend emerges. At the beginning of the crisis, the media was mostly flooded with negative headlines. The footballers quarreled with the clubs about the pay cuts, such as the Arsenal stars who refused to give up the money. Quite a few players violated the isolation instructions, such as Captain Aston Villa Jack Grillish. There were players who expressed in advance opposition to the intention to consider resuming the games for fear of their health. Meanwhile, the clubs themselves made mass layoffs of workers, taking advantage of the opportunity to force the public system to pay their wages. Increased to do Liverpool, which had to return in the end because of particularly harsh public criticism.

English football was conducted, then, as English football is accustomed to conduct itself – selfishly, while disconnecting from the people and the fans. However, over time, the trend has changed. The clubs internalized the need to have constructive communication with the local communities, while some players took the lead in the public arena. A protest over the murder of George Floyd in the United States, which soon spilled over to Europe, helped – and clubs officially announced support for the black lives matter demand. But that’s not really everything. Stars have realized that their voices can be heard louder in a crisis, and are also demanding a substantial change in values ​​from the government. Marcus Rashford is leading this movement – he has set up charities, donated a lot of money to charity, and now demands that poor children be given meals even in the summer months, when schools are closed. Prime Minister Boris Johnson initially refused, but surrendered within a day, and these are real buds of change. There is a positive impact of footballers on politics.

Because crises of sorts destroy everything, but they also serve as fertile ground for positive change and leadership growth. English football in general, and the Premier League in particular, are able to come out of it strengthened, with tighter ties between clubs and fans. If ticket prices drop dramatically when the crowd is allowed to return to stadiums, if a lot of money is transferred to the lower leagues to keep the small and ingrained clubs, if transfer rates return to sanity, if players’ social awareness goes up – the Corona may be remembered in the long run as an event.

Will it really happen? Only time will tell, but in the meantime the good news is already here for football fans around the world. We can watch the Premier League on a daily basis in the coming weeks, and the struggles at the top and bottom may be fascinating. only The championship has already been decided, But the drama surrounding Liverpool’s first win at the end of a 30-year drought only intensified in the wake of the plague. it will be fun.


Source: Maariv.co.il – כדורגל עולמי by sport1.maariv.co.il.

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