Coronavirus: The horrendous impact on football clubs up and down the country

  • Kat Lucas

The cameras will start rolling and the terraces will roar again.

When footballers across the country finally step onto the pitch again, we should expect it to be a day of national celebration. 

Instead, for many clubs it will be a moment to mourn those who have lost their jobs, players who have been forced to leave, or whole teams folded altogether. 

It would be wrong to think that the coronavirus crisis will be over as soon as games commence again. 

The Daily Mail have provided further detail on the financial impact the current hiatus is having on teams from the Premier League to non-league and it’s no exaggeration to say that some may never recover. 

The newspaper suggest top-flight clubs are on course to lose up to £750 million EACH, largely due to the loss of TV earnings. 

That’s because broadcasters will be losing millions themselves, Sky Sports allowing customers to freeze their subscriptions while there is no live action. 

Only time will tell of the knock-on effects that will have on transfers and wages.

Down the Football League ladder, however, it’s an even more alarming story. 

Per the same report, one club could have to lay off their entire workforce. 

One positive is that Barnet, who initially expected to lose all non-playing staff, have provided the following update in a statement: 

“We originally thought that we would be losing up to 60 staff across the group but with the Government support measures in place, the number of people affected, excluding the academy, is now less than half a dozen, who for various reasons e.g. end of contract, returned overseas etc. would have departed anyway.” 

To many smaller sides, a hit of £100,000 is enough to see them go under with no ticket sales and uncertainty over sponsors. 

In the Championship, teams are feeling a massive pinch, Birmingham City asking their players to defer 50% of their wages.

They are far from the only club – even Barcelona are negotiating with their players insisting they can’t be paid their full salaries. 

Back in the UK, the PFA are acting on the behalf of players. Lower-league professionals may be put on ‘sabbatical’ for months. 

It’s hoped that one solution may be for clubs to sign up to the Job Retention Scheme. Last week, the British Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the Government will in some cases pay 80% of employees’ wages.  

That’s only up to £2,500 a month, which inevitably means some players would not be paid their full wages further up the pyramid. 

At present, the outlook is bleak for the whole of football.

Whether your club is a Premier League giant or a non-league minnows, these truly are troubling and unprecedented times. 

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