Expert comment: 'Euro 2020 should be postponed'17 March 2020
UEFA is set to meet today (Tuesday 17 March) to discuss the European football schedule for this summer, in the face of the growing COVID-19 threat.
Possible decisions include postponing the Euro 2020 championships, due to be hosted by cities across Europe in June and July, and concluding European club competitions with mini tournaments.
Meetings will follow between clubs and officials in the English Football League on Wednesday, and the Premier League on Thursday, to decide if and how the domestic season can be completed.
Dr James Reade, sports economist at the University of Reading, said:
“It’s inconceivable to think that Euro 2020 will go ahead in 2020 now given the expected spread of the virus, and given the (minimum) one month delay in most European leagues.
“Given domestic leagues are being put back, then there will be knock-on effects. Are there any actual events that couldn’t take place with a delay? Because to do anything other than delay means football clubs losing out on revenues from the remaining matches completely, rather than having a deferred payday, as currently seems likely. That surely minimises financial repercussions.
“There are going to be scheduling problems. Could the Euros go into the Autumn if we can’t finish the current season in time? The Nations League will recommence then, but can that simply go back too? Or would we move Euro 2020 to 2021, which then would leave it going head to head with the Women’s Euro 2021 here in England (scheduled to be July 11 to August 1). Qualification for World Cup 2022 would have begun, but that surely doesn’t matter.
“Despite the famous saying, football is not bigger than life or death. But fans feeling bereft does matter as morale is a significant issue. The job of economists is usually to put monetary values on things like this. How much do we value having football on a Saturday afternoon - something we’ve taken for granted for a very long time now?
“There is also the question of how long companies that rely on football for their income, like betting companies, pubs, matchday vendors and hospitality, can last without matches going on.”
Professor Adrian Bell, Research Dean for Prosperity and Resilience at the University of Reading, said:
“Euro 2020 should be postponed a year - allowing domestic leagues to complete and other European competitions - they are already talking about a mini competition to finish it off.
“Yes there will be lots of financial implications, but this is small compared to the losses in the domestic game as you go down the pyramid. Will people go to watch football in the Summer if it is played then with spectators?
“What is clear is that the football bodies need to make immediate decisions to clarify whether it is null and void, positions as now or something else.”