The coronavirus has shut down global soccer since mid-March. League play has been suspended. Player wages cut. Revenue is drying up.
The pandemic has the potential to alter the face of European soccer for years. Clubs standing on more solid financial footing could significantly benefit from a competitive standpoint when the 2020-21 season eventually kicks off.
Here’s a look at some clubs that may rise and fall due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Risers: Premier League
We’ll get more granular in a moment, but the wealthiest league is always going to be in the strongest position during economic downturns. The Premier League has the best broadcasting deals and a deeper sponsorship and merchandising reservoir. It’s possible that mid-tier EPL clubs will have the same buying power as top Serie A and La Liga sides this transfer period. That could tilt the power dynamic of European soccer for the foreseeable future.
Fallers: La Liga
Spain has been hit hard by the corona pandemic. Top La Liga sides were among the first to face wage cuts.
More concerning, though, is Barcelona’s seemingly precarious financial position and what that could mean for the league’s overall continental standing. On that note…
There’s a lot of smoke signals coming from Camp Nou indicated that Barca have financial issues. New reports indicate they’ll be sellers this summer. If Barca can’t field a competitive enough side, does Lionel Messi bounce?
The Catalans financial issues will be among the most watched off-season stories.
If all goes as planned, the Bundesliga will be the first major domestic league to restart. They have a new TV deal that kicks in next season with ESPN. They play the most “Americanized” style of soccer, with goals aplenty.
Germany has not been hit as hard as Spain and Italy. The Bundesliga was already becoming more than a 1 1/2 team league. Don’t be surprised if Germany is a very close second to England within two years in terms of revenue and stature.
Fallers: Ligue Un
Already a distant fifth among Euro domestic competitions, the financial gap between PSG and the rest of the league will only widen from the shut down.
Risers: Manchester United
If Manchester City‘s FFP ban holds, United are in prime position for a Champions League return.The Red Devils are strong financially. With UCL football in play to go along with a generous checkbook, this could be the year Man U starts its climb out of (relative) mediocrity.
Fallers: Atletico Madrid
La Liga may not return this season. If that’s the case, Atleti will finish sixth and find themselves in the Europa League. They were among early wage cutters. They may lose the momentum they gained from their shock upset of Liverpool in the UCL. This was the season where the door was left open for Atleti to get on Barca and Real Madrid‘s level. Through poor domestic league game management and bad luck, they may have missed their chance.
The march towards their first Premier League title got sidetracked and stalled. Yes, they’ll win the league. But how easily can they tap into that relentlessness with so much time off — and on such a let down?
The squad would need some off-season refreshing as well. Will the virus stop plans to bring in the likes of Timo Werner as has been rumored?
Newcastle is on the verge of basically being owned by Saudi Arabia. It’s a proud, well-supported club. They may end up with an influx of financial resources they haven’t had in recent years. Timing is everything. This could be Newcastle’s time. Their supporters certainly deserve a break.