Expert comment: Premier League suspension meeting, and salaries unfairly targeted03 April 2020
Dr James Reade, a sports economist at the University of Reading, said:
[On Premier League clubs meeting today to discuss extending the suspension of the season]
"Belgium moving first may change things, but the Premier League is unlikely to want to follow Belgium’s lead if it sees itself as the global leading league.
"They’ll have to suspend the season further, for sure, maybe even indefinitely for now, but there’s no reason not to finish the season. There’s the fairness aspect, and there’s the fact we’re all desperate for a return to the action. There are only so many re-runs, or looks at the Belarus league we can be satisfied by.
"In addition, aside from Liverpool being statistically 100% to win the league according to our research [http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/econscorecast/2020/02/28/end-of-season-update-february-27/], it’s not clear who will make the other three Champions League positions (Man City quite likely, but their ban?), and then the Europe League spots. That’s not even talking about relegation.
"Simply taking positions as they are isn’t tenable since there was so much action left, and Villa for example are *only* 53% likely to go down. So they have 47% chance of staying up - they wouldn’t take any automatic relegation lying down, just as the non-league clubs are taking action collectively now.
"There are no Euros, and there’s no reason not to delay the start of 2020/21. They could maybe cut out the League Cup or something similar to keep congestion down to finish by Euro 2021, but that’s all that’s needed, surely?"
[On calls for footballers to take pay cuts]
“If the government offers free money, people will take it. Especially the less scrupulous amongst us. But the point is that if the government offers money, it changes the game so to speak; incentives change. The point of the government’s scheme was to protect workers, and clubs have used it for that purpose.
“It’s also not just footballers that are high earners - but they are perhaps the most visible, and the most influential for many. So despite the protestations that if footballers are to take cuts, then bankers should, and so should CEOs. It remains that footballers are the role models and can affect perceptions of the game to a lot of people - especially younger people.
“The final thing in the defence of footballers: they are high earners, but they earn highly until their early 30s, usually. They have a short career span in which to earn their rewards, and save for their pension.
“While we might argue the health of the game is in their hands, that is a little unfair - the health of the game is in the hands of the FA, the Premier League and the EFL. I don’t think it’s fair to think that it’s in the hands of each individual - the governing bodies are the ones that need to step up here and do the right things.
“What are the ‘right things’? The FA should surely require that clubs ensure their first recourse is to be using income from within the game to make ends meet - by requiring their highest earners take pay cuts. But clearly if there are no regular payments from TV companies coming in for EPL clubs, then what do they have left to make payments with other than to furlough?”