Serie A

Will football finish the season? In Italy, it's financial Armageddon if they don't

In one of the countries worst-hit by the coronavirus crisis, the battle to avoid football going bankrupt begins

 
1:44pm on Tuesday 24th March 2020
By
Paul Macdonald • PAULMACDFC

Global financial services firm Deloitte has issued a stark warning to Serie A clubs that losses could reach £700m if the 2019/20 season is not concluded.

La Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting that failure to play the remaining fixtures of the year will lead to losses which could see a number of clubs and even the very organisation itself file for bankruptcy as they struggle to content with the pervasive influence of the coronavirus on all aspects of society.

Despite Italy surpassing China at the weekend in terms of the number of total deaths, there is still optimism among officials - unfounded or otherwise - that the season can resume in May and that the matches can be completed by mid-June.

The Italian sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora is still targeting the first week in May to play matches; whether the public will be able to attend at this point remains unclear.

And the size of the potential losses has brought into focus not just Italy's desire to get back to playing, but of sport in general. Numerous organisations and their members face financial ruin if events cannot take place, not just from lost gate receipts but from the complicated broadcasting contracts that require some sports to meet a minimum requirement of events in order to receive their payments in full.

The coronavirus pandemic is yet to peak in the United Kingdom but the Premier League are already considering early June as a point of return, whether fans are in attendance or not. The richest leagues are capable of doing so but further down the calendar it remains a mystery as to when people will be able to gather in public again; without fans spending money, teams will unquestionably face severe financial hardship.

But the message in Italy is stark - if the losses are anywhere near the number that Deloitte has suggested, then football simply has to play - or else there may not be football left at the other side of this crisis.

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