Premier League clubs face having to pay a huge refund to broadcasters even if they manage to complete the season behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Broadcasters would be reimbursed for matches not being played as scheduled and the lack of atmosphere in empty stadiums is also a factor.
The BBC reported that the bill facing the English top flight, which continued talks on “Project Restart” on Monday, could be as high as ￡340 million (US$418 million).
“We were able to update our clubs today on our situation with broadcasters, which is obviously confidential,” Premier League CEO Richard Masters said.
“Whatever happens, there’s going to be significant loss of revenue for clubs. That is inevitable,” he said.
“We were able to paint a picture today about what would happen in various scenarios, playing out the season and not playing out the season, to allow them to have a picture of that as we stand in the early part of May,” he added.
The rebate to broadcasters would surge to an estimated ￡760 million if the season cannot be completed.
Masters has warned of a ￡1 billion loss once the absence of gate receipts is taken into account.
For the first time, the 20 Premier League clubs on Monday discussed models that might have to be used to decide final standings if it is not deemed safe to resume the season.
New government guidelines have paved the way for elite sport to return behind closed doors in England from June 1.
However, England internationals Raheem Sterling and Danny Rose are the two latest high-profile players to raise concern over a return to contact sport when the rest of society is being advised to follow social distancing guidelines.
“The moment we do go back it just needs to be a moment where it’s not just for footballing reasons, it’s safe for not just us footballers, but the whole medical staff, referees,” Sterling said in a video posted on YouTube.
“[I am] not scared, but reserved and thinking what the worst outcome could be,” he said.
“I’ve had friends whose grandma has passed away, I’ve had family members as well that have passed away,” he added.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday told parliament that the return of sport on TV would “provide a much-needed boost to national morale” in a country that has been one of the worst hit by the pandemic.
“People’s lives are at risk,” Rose, who is on loan from Tottenham Hotspur to Newcastle United, said on Instagram. “Football shouldn’t even be spoken about coming back until the numbers have dropped massively.”
However, Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor said that many of his members would be open to playing again provided “everything that can be done is being done” to ensure their safety.
“We’ve got to try it, see if we can do it and see if we can return to some form of activity,” Taylor told the Daily Mirror. “But it’s also being as careful and having as many assurances as possible that it’s achievable.”
The Premier League yesterday was to meet the association and the managers’ union to discuss protocols for a return to group training.
A further complication for Project Restart is where matches would be played, with the clubs opposed to a proposal for a limited number of neutral venues to be used.
The UK’s national soccer policing lead previously said that resuming matches on a home-and-away basis would “present challenges” to public health resources.
However, Mark Roberts on Tuesday said that police, government and soccer authorities were working together on a plan “which minimizes any risks to public safety and unnecessary pressure on public services, but facilitates a sensible restart to the season.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has voiced opposition to playing matches in the capital at this stage, with the city having been particularly badly hit by the pandemic.
Five of the 20 Premier League sides are based in London.
“With the country still in the grips of this crisis, and hundreds of people dying every day, he believes that it is too early to be discussing the resumption of the Premier League and top-flight sport in the capital,” Khan’s spokesperson told the Evening Standard.
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