Since the outbreak, the mega-deals are nowhere to be seen.
The summer break in football is as exciting as the summer. Transfers blowing out of the roof have become the order of the day and fans wait to see their favourite clubs signing players and expect those players to have a defining effect on their clubs. This summer could be different. The outbreak of global pandemic Coronavirus and the subsequent shutting down of all football leagues on the globe is expected to have a more lasting impact on the entire football ecosystem.
While global stars may not have an effect after the global lockdown ceases, the majority of the ecosystem – including players, managers, medical teams, staffs at the clubs and scouts could suffer.
Economically, there will be global repercussions. Former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has said that clubs will need time to recover from the financial consequences of the outbreak of Coronavirus, and there will be no ‘massive’ transfers in the near future.
The former World Cup winner said, “The current situation is a threat, but also a chance to change the coordinates. You can’t dictate it, but transfer fees in excess of €100 million will be a thing of the past for the next few years. The transfer fees will drop and will not return to the current level in the next two, three years. All countries are affected. There will most likely be a new footballing world.”
There’s more to the quote than what meets the eye. Suddenly, no one is talking about where Paul Pogba or Neymar play the next season. No one is worried about how Philippe Coutinho will fit into the Barcelona system. At the lower strata of the footballing world, the situation looks dire.
In Norway, first clubs have shown the door to all employees and players to get through the crisis period. AS Monaco, one of the biggest-selling clubs in France has reduced their players’ salaries by 30%. Monaco has sold players like Kylian Mbappe, Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva to top clubs and is one of the biggest money-spinners in the footballing circuit.
French club Lyon has put their players on short-time working as a means of saving money. Swiss outfit Sion has cancelled the contracts of nine players who refused to go on temporary unemployment. In Scotland, ending of players’ contracts just after May is a regular phenomenon. Hearts, amidst this crisis, has asked its players to accept 50% pay cuts. Most of them have already agreed to it.
In Scotland, it is not unusual for player contracts to expire immediately after the scheduled last game of the season in May. In any case, struggling Hearts have asked players and staff to accept 50% pay cuts.
A study by KPMG has revealed that Europe’s top five leagues could lose as much as €4 billion in combined revenue if the outbreak wipes out the rest of the season. Premier League, alone, stands to lose as much as €1.25 billion and a potential €800 million of that in broadcasting revenue. This loss is certain to have a ripple effect on the ensuing transfer window and several clubs might feel the enforced need to sell, and transfer prices could drop down to accommodate the lack of money in the market.
Loaned-out players that return to their clubs are expected to be fairly cheap again – a bargain market. Most managers are unlikely to throw in the moolah – simply putting together a competitive squad while holding on to the key players will be on top of the agenda for club managements.
In this scenario, a distressed club with financial trouble could become an unwilling seller, so there could be a fire sale of a distressed club setting its assets. More free agents could find themselves on the top of the radar, as they will not involve a tug-of-war for money between clubs.
Players like Willian at Chelsea, David Silva at Man City and Thiago Silva and Edinson Cavani at PSG will be free agents on July 1, and can be expected to be lapped up again soon, having proven their mettle at the top level consistently. In the interim, FIFA has set up a working group to amend rules on transfers and bring in fresh measures to protect contracts for both players and clubs.
In case this season is extended (which looks unlikely to happen at the moment), the players could see their regular contracts being extended until the proposed date of the end of the season. The UEFA Euro 2020, a high profile tournament involving some biggest stars on the continent, has already been postponed by 12 months.
In Brazil, known as a global hub for scouting youngsters, there is a lull. While the Brazilian league functioned longer than most European leagues, they were behind closed doors. Scouts, too, will find it difficult to pitch players to clubs, who will have changed priorities this season. The transfer season is expected to be a lull and not expected to see any-high profile shockers.
This will be an interesting transfer season, with fans expecting a quiet one. The cheaper a deal, the better it will be. Uli Hoeness’ prediction could very well come true and nine-figure transfer prices could become a thing of the past – just for a season or two. Sit tight, because the game will return and football will remain the same. The same skills, the same goals, the same flashery, it’ll all be back if you and the world is safe from coronavirus. Stay indoors, stay safe.