The Premier League
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the premier league as it has led to drastic changes that have affected all areas of the sport.
The Premier League before the COVID-19
The premier league is the richest and the most-watched football league in the world with over one billion fans watching the league at the stadium and around the world. The championship usually involves teams playing each other home and away all through the season with a total of 380 matches starting August and ending May (The Premier League, 2020). But as a result of the pandemic, the premier league was suspended on the 13th of March during the 2019/2020 season after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for COVID-19. This affected the schedule set for the season and the future 2020/2021 season. The suspension led to great financial losses for the league, clubs, players, and sponsors.
Empty stadium as a result of the league suspension
The 2019/2020 suspension – financial impact
The Premier League suffered great financial losses as revenue gotten from selling tickets was no longer possible. Some players suffered a pay cut and others were laid off as a result of the financial impact. Arsenal had to let go of their club’s mascot gunnersaurus as a cost-cutting measure (Bhaduri, 2020). Global sports television a source of revenue also suffered great financial losses that impacted the sport (Waliaula and Okong’o, 2020). Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the premier league was set to generate close to six billion euros in annual revenue, but as a result of the pandemic, the premier league clubs lost close to one billion euros with half of that loss presumed to be permanent (Lappin and Caples, 2020).
Also, the total amount of money spent on acquiring players decreased by 7 percent as the league had to cut down on clubs’ spending to 1.2 billion euros. Real Madrid, who acquire players every transfer window did not for the first summer since 1980. Also, Los Blancos another club that always acquires players shied away from it as a result of coronavirus losses (Bhaduri, 2020).
The 2019/2020 resumption – the new normal
After much debate, the decision for the league to resume came on 9th May, completing the season after three months. In order to prevent the spread of the virus as the season resumed, the league and the government set up strict COVID-19 protocols to make sure the players and the staff are protected while they were on the field. Balls, corner flags, goals, cones, and pitches will have to be disinfected after each session and these sessions are not allowed to last more than 75 minutes. Players will have their temperature checked daily and have a COVID-19 test twice a week (Saunders, 2020). No spectators will be allowed inside the stadiums to watch the match and the traditional pre-game handshake between opponents will be forgone as a measure to prevent the spread of the virus while the games resume. The normal workout protocol before each match will take place and teams will be a lineup as usual, but players will walk past their opponents without shaking hands (Staff, 2020). Following the strict protocols, the season ended on the 26th of July. Despite these protocols, players still reported contacting COVID-19 as the season went on.
Soccer match with no fans
Before the pandemic, clubs usually have a transfer window from May to August where they can complete their deals on player movements. But as a result of the pandemic, this dynamic changed as the season ended much later than usual. As a result, players had their contracts till the 30th of June, pushing the transfer window from July 27 to October 5. This affected the football club as players insisted on moving to different clubs even before the season was over. For example, Timo Werner a key player in RB Leipzig left for Chelsea before the end of the 2019/2020 season, leaving the club without a key player in the knockout game (Bhaduri, 2020).
The 2020/2021 season
The 2020/2021 season started on the 12th of September seven weeks after the previous season ended. During the seven-week period, players were given strict rules to follow in other to protect themselves and their teams in the upcoming season, and players who broke these rules were dropped from the season. Manchester City players Phil Faden and Mason Greenwood were dropped from the season as they breached the coronavirus rules set for players while they were back home in Iceland (Hurst, 2020). Just as the season was about to start players were still testing positive for the virus. Two days before the season was about to start, Manchester City confirmed two of its players testing positive (Hurst, 2020).
In order to prevent the spread of the virus as the new season commence, the league and the government will follow the same protocols set up in May to make sure the player and staff are protected in the games. Also, fans will still not be allowed into the stadium following the previous end of season matches (Bailey, 2020).
In order to make up for its 2020/2021 season revenue lost at Matchday, the premier league has introduced a pay-per-view system to broadcast some of their matches. For half of the 10 matches played in each round, views will be asked to pay an additional fee of about 20 USD to watch them on top of their usual subscription from Comcast-own Sky Sport and BT sport (The New Indian Express, 2020).
On the 5th of November, the United Kingdom went on its second lockdown, but the Premier League and other elite sports were exempted from the lockdown restrictions. There were no imminent changes to the Premier League game as a result of the lockdown which lasted until the 2nd of December (Edwards, 2020). The season is presumed to end on the 23rd of May 2021 is all goes as planned (Bailey, 2020).
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