Football faces losing many clubs to bankruptcy because of the coronavirus pandemic, a club executive has warned.
Clubs across Europe have been denied commercial revenue with no games in most countries for at least two months and empty stadiums look likely for months ahead.
A slowdown in the multi-billion-dollar transfer market, and possible defaults on payments from player deals made before the shutdown, were cited as concerns by Lokomotiva Zagreb director Dennis Gudasic.
“I think the biggest threat to club football in the coming six months is going to be the survival of smaller clubs,” Gudasic said during an online debate hosted on Wednesday by the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) at the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland.
He warned of a “drastic situation whereby we have maybe 100 or 200 clubs go bankrupt in September or October” if challenges facing smaller clubs are not understood.
Now, many clubs are looking for richer leagues to complete their seasons so that money paid by broadcasters for fulfilling contracts can revive the transfer market.
“This is where there is a lot of uncertainty,” Gudasic said, adding some clubs in Croatia in terms of budgeting had become “actually addicted” to transfer revenue from their former players.
FIFA, football’s world governing body, has agreed to be flexible with the typical July-August trading period in Europe as there is no clarity when the current season will end and the 2020-21 campaign will begin.
“This would be a good idea to make like a six months transfer window from summer to winter 2021,” Sadowski said. “It would give all those clubs a chance to better plan transfers and their budgets.”
Although English clubs face hardship if broadcast deals are not paid in full, the huge wealth gap in Europe was highlighted. Every English Premier League club will still be paid tens of millions of dollars this season, while Croatian clubs get 150,000 euros ($162,000) annually from domestic TV revenue, Gudasic said.
In March, European Club Association (ECA) leader Andrea Agnelli predicted clubs faced “an existential threat”.
The Juventus president described the coronavirus outbreak as “the biggest challenge our game and industry has ever faced”.