United and Wed­nes­day hit hard­est across top two tiers

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport / Covid Crisis - Jeremy Wil­son

Football clubs in the Premier League and Cham­pi­onship are fac­ing a com­bined hole of more than £1 bil­lion if crowds do not re­turn be­fore the end of the sea­son.

Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son an­nounced on Tues­day that plans for the pos­si­ble re­turn of fans from Oct 1 had been shelved as part of new mea­sures to stem the ris­ing spread of Covid-19.

Nu­mer­ous clubs from League One down through to non-League and be­low are not fi­nan­cially vi­able with­out fans but, even al­low­ing for their broad­cast in­come, the fi­nan­cial im­pact on clubs in the top two tiers is still also con­sid­er­able.

Although Manch­ester United face the big­gest pro­jected lost in­come, of £139.39 mil­lion, Arse­nal are pro­por­tion­ately most af­fected. They de­rive sig­nif­i­cantly less in­come than United from com­mer­cial rev­enue streams, but would still have ex­pected to make £122.27 mil­lion from fans on match days. Ac­cord­ing to Arse­nal’s most re­cent ac­counts for 2018-19, match-day in­come amounted to al­most a quar­ter of all rev­enue.

Arse­nal’s pro­jected loss is around £40mil­lion more than Chelsea and al­most £50mil­lion more than Manch­ester City. The over­all pro­jected loss across the Premier League is put at £911.66mil­lion.

In the Cham­pi­onship, Sh­effield Wed­nes­day, whose ground has a ca­pac­ity of al­most 40,000, are pro­jected to be hard­est hit and can ex­pect lost in­come of al­most £23mil­lion. The Cham­pi­onship clubs will be around £180 mil­lion short in match-day in­come in total.

The English Football League has es­ti­mated its bail-out needs across its three di­vi­sions at £200mil­lion for a sea­son with­out fans.

The pro­jec­tions have been made by fi­nan­cial an­a­lysts Vysy­ble, who cal­cu­lated ex­pected rev­enues in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 sea­sons ac­cord­ing to 2018-19 bal­ance sheets. They then fac­tored in the games played by each club prior to lock­down dur­ing the 2019-20 sea­son and av­er­age at­ten­dances.

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