Football has started rolling in Spain since the country entered a lockdown on March 14th because of the coronavirus pandemic. The country has begun easing some of the lockdown measures that were put in place in mid-March. As a continuation of these measures, Spain’s National Sports Council has already shown the green flag for La Liga title race to re-start on June 11th with Betis locking horns with Sevilla.
Too much to football fans delight, there will be a continuous series of 110 matches for the next 39 days till July 19th to complete the 11 remaining matchdays of the La Liga title race 2019-20 season. However, this news won’t bring smiles on the players’ faces as they have to deal with the sweltering heat of Spanish summer, in addition to the marked up workload.
The players now have to face matches twice a week almost every week, with the only good news being the permission for five substitutions per match. Players could play nearly 1000 minutes of football in these 39 days. This heavy workload is going to test the fitness of many players, especially the ones above the 30s. Chances for a flurry of injuries is quite high like we saw when Bundesliga re-started.
Post this pandemic, the football world is heading towards a severe cash crunch. Staging La Liga behind closed doors could cause a scenario of fiscal and economic austerity to Spanish Football. Though this is not what anyone wants but it’s economic impact on football clubs would be high. Without fans, football cannot exist even in this digital era.
Spanish clubs are considering more direct swaps of players instead of big transfer payments given the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis. Also, sponsorship funds may dry up, as many of the sponsor companies could be facing financial crisis. The growth of Spanish women’s football could be ‘torn up’ by the financial slump.
The economic consequences waiting for us could be anything such that, by the time fans are allowed back into the stadiums, there could be nobody there on the field to watch. Who knows what’s waiting for us ahead? The COVID-19 has halted football in its tracks, imperiled the eco-system that feeds thousands of clubs, players, and related businesses.
IMPACT ON PLAYER VALUES’
The total market value of players in the ‘Big Five’ leagues will suffer a drop of 28%, from 32.7 billion euros to 23.4 billion euros if no more matches are played this season and the contracts set to expire in June are not renewed.
A study from the research conducted by Football Observatory at the Swiss-based International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) informs that the total market value of players in the ‘Big Five’ leagues, will suffer a drop of 28%, from 32.7 billion euros to 23.4 billion euros, if no more matches are played this season. The extent of the decrease varies based on several factors, such as the players’ age, contract duration, and recent performance. Older players having relatively shorter contracts, who played relatively fewer matches this season, will be affected.
For now, football fans have to make themselves comfortable viewing matches in front of their televisions. A big sacrifice for many of the football-crazy ones’. Empty stadiums, substitutes sitting 6 feet apart, team staffs and camera crew wearing masks and gloves is more than enough to give an idea that the world is going through an extraordinary crisis. But football comes as a solace to many, that there is light at the end of every tunnel, a feeling that life is coming back to normalcy.
As football has re-started with several health protocols – empty stadiums, virtual crowds, and elbow celebrations, are things that fans take time to get used to. With the Spanish Government deciding to move forward and preparing to live with COVID-19, the re-start of football could be part of the measures to revive the Spanish economy. Whether this decision is too soon; or will backfire or not is yet to be seen, but what’s waiting for the football fans is a non-stop football for the next one and half month.
As Barcelona and Real Madrid, closely fighting for the title with the Catalan side having a 2 point advantage, the next 11 matchdays are nothing less than finals, to stay alive for the La Liga title race as rightly said by Arturo Vidal.