The impact of the Coronavirus outbreak is being felt across the globe, with almost 600,000 confirmed cases and over 25,000 deaths at the time of writing. The world economy has crashed to almost a standstill with many countries now implementing lockdown procedures to slow the spread of the virus.
In football, the vast majority of leagues have been suspended until May at least, with only the Belarussian Premier League in Europe known to be operating as normal. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are due to be rescheduled “no later than Summer 2021” whilst the European Championships are now due to kick-off on the 11th June 2021. This should hopefully enable football to continue into the Summer to ensure that the 2020/2021 season can be completed. However, it remains to be seen how this may impact the Summer Transfer Window.
Firstly, the Summer Transfer Window is designed to allow clubs to buy and sell outside of the football season. With football now expected to continue throughout this period, it’s likely that we will see a shortened window at the very least, with this delayed until the 2020/21 season is completed. However, it remains to be seen what the situation will be if current delays to football leagues are further extended. Discussions have previously been held as to whether Serie A should end early, be decided by play-offs or cancelled, with no promotion, relegation or title winner. Whilst these solutions could be also be explored across other leagues, without any clear decision made, it still remains to be seen how this could affect the transfer window.
In addition, the loss of revenue due to the stoppage in the season could be astronomic. It has recently been reported that if the current Premier League and EFL seasons do not resume, losses due to TV rights money, matchday revenue and prize money for both domestic and European competition could exceed £1bn. Furthermore, Manchester United has seen a £613m fall in its share price since the Coronavirus outbreak. This equates to a 25% loss in the Club’s valuation. If this was replicated across all other Premier League clubs, this loss would rise to £9bn.
However, one positive to come from the delay in the season is the increased time that clubs will be provided to identify transfer targets and plan for the future. With travel bans and little football continuing to be played, players cannot be scouted although further video and statistical analysis can be undertaken during this break to confirm or discover players to recruit. In theory, this should enable clubs to recruit more efficiently and effectively when the transfer window finally opens.
To conclude, it’s likely that in the upcoming Summer Transfer Window there will be significantly less activity due to the reduced finances at all Clubs that will be available for recruitment. Furthermore, it is expected that Clubs will also be more reluctant to sell their players because of the shortened window allowing less time for replacements to be recruited. However, the increased time for analysis could counteract this point if Clubs can accurately predict which players could leave their Club in the upcoming window.