LONDON: The coronavirus lockdown has already left a huge impact on the sports industry, causing thousands of sports games, competitions and professional leagues to be cancelled or postponed. European football is no exception, with cancelled matches, empty stadiums and end-of-season battles left in limbo.

Earlier this month, UEFA suspended Europe’s most prestigious competitions, the Champions League and Europa League, with 40 matches remaining. The same decision was made for the Euro 2020 qualifying playoffs, with the finals moved from this summer to next year.

The suspension of matches due to coronavirus pandemic is expected to produce a costly financial hit to European football leagues, with combined losses reaching up to €4.1bn, according to data gathered by LearnBonds.

‘Incredible growth’

The last two decades have witnessed an incredible growth of revenue of European football clubs, driven by a surge in broadcast rights values, for both domestic and international competitions. Some clubs have been able to increase revenue at multiples of their respective countries’ GDP growth, staying immune to broader market conditions.

Combined with the sport’s ability to connect people, football became a massive recession-proof industry generating billions of euros in profit across Europe.

However, the coronavirus outbreak has changed that, leaving the largest European football leagues to face substantial losses. With a potential €1.28bn loss, the English Premier League is expected to suffer the most substantial financial hit among Europe’s leagues, revealed the Statista data.

More than 60pc of that amount or €800m comes lost broadcasting revenue. Lost commercial sales could amount to €300m, followed by a €180m drop in matchday profit.

Spanish La Liga is forecast to withstand the second-largest financial hit, losing around €970m due to coronavirus outbreak. Germany’s Bundesliga,

Italy’s Serie A and the French Ligue 1 follow with a potential €790m, €700m and €400m loss, respectively. As with the English Premier League, broadcasting rights are also expected to cause the biggest financial hit in these leagues.

Transfers loss

Besides causing severe financial loss to the football leagues in Europe, the coronavirus lockdown will also cut revenues at leading European clubs.

In the season 2018-19, the top 20 clubs generated combined revenue of €9.3bn, or 11pc more compared to the previous season, revealed the Deloitte Football Money League 2020. Player transfers made a significant contribution to that amount.

However, with some players’ contracts running out at the end of the season and still no decision about continuing the matches, many transfers will be held up, renegotiated or called off.

If no further matches are to be played this season and no contracts extended past the end of June, the English Premier League side Manchester City stands to lose €412m of player transfer value.

Barcelona rank second on this list with a €366m potential loss. Liverpool, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain follow with €353m, €350m and €302m losses, respectively.

Statistics show that in this situation, ten of the most-affected European football clubs stand to lose over €3bn of their player’s transfer value.

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