The effects of the coronavirus will be felt for a few years: there will be budget cuts, billionaire signings will be scarce and chips will tend to shrink
Some leaders fear a disaffection of the fans, in particular in the youngest segment, more tempted by other leisure offers
“Football is at a crossroads, we must change and offer the fans the best possible competition or we run the risk of losing it,” said the Juventus president
Andrea Agnelli, the talkative president of the Juventus and together with the president of the ECA (the association representing European clubs), this week issued an alarming warning about the soccer fate. Agnelli warned of the risk of disaffection in a world of segmented entertainment. “Football is at a crossroads, we have to change and offer the fans the best possible competition or we run the risk of losing it. Most likely, there are too many games that are not competitive, both nationally and internationally, and this does not capture the interest of the fans. We cannot take the fans for granted, “he said. Agnelli made this speech at the ECA assembly. It did so within the framework of a proposal to reformulate European competitions, the Champions League First of all, that it is not a secret precisely that it is moving towards a deep restructuring, apparently in the end in agreement with UEFA. In any case, what the Italian said is that the recovery or conquest of the young public should be prioritized. The multimillion dollar business is going on it. “Almost two-thirds of young people follow football out of fear of missing out or simply because they like big events. 40% of the fans between the ages of 16 and 24, the famous Gen Z, have no interest in football. “
“We have to change. 40% of the fans aged 16 to 24, the famous Gen Z, have no interest in football”
Andrea Agnelli, president of Juventus
The pandemic has affected soccer passion, possibly sports in general. No one has been able to represent for a year the ancestral ceremony of moving to the stands of a stadium or a pavilion, an individual or family habit lost and it remains to be seen how it is recovered. The television experience, despite considerable efforts to produce it, is incomplete, and to this it should be added that the Global ‘entertainment’ has diversified like never before, spreading the perception that confinements have accentuated the atomization of free time. Now there are numerous television platforms, e-sports, play stations and the entire infinite and absorbing cataract of social networks such as YouTube, Instagram or Twitch, in particular in the age group that Agnelli pointed out.
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The awareness of this situation even led to the creation of television subscription packages for the last 15 minutes of the matches during the ECA assembly as an option for the future. “The attention span of today’s children and tomorrow’s clients is completely different from what I had at their age,” said 45-year-old Agnelli himself.
Football must adapt and change, and in fact it has already done so throughout this period of pandemic. The five team substitutions appear to be here to stay. It is to be hoped that the empty stands will soon disappear and the pressure from the public will return, which has reduced the importance of the factor of playing at home. If not, ask Liverpool. Without the usual Anfield fire, Jürgen Klopp’s side have conceded six consecutive defeats at their stadium. A statistic that has the Merseyside club stunned.
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Post-pandemic football will lead to reduced budgets in the coming years, very substantial in the clubs that entered the most, such as Barça. From estimating a budget of almost 1,100 million, the last directive went to a forecast of 828. Joan Laporta, the president-elect, spoke in campaign that, in reality, the income would be even lower, of 650 million. Almost all European clubs splash between losses (113 million, Juventus, 204 PSG) and all this new accounting scenario will lead to a radical reduction of the multimillion dollar transfers that have abounded so much in recent times. Goodbye to the 100 million signings. Hello to the reduction of the chips to measures that the contracts of the footballers are consumed. It is necessary here to record the eccentric proposal of Agnelli in the last assembly and that caused an arch of the eyebrows: to prevent the signings between the big clubs, which are They are forced to fish in lesser clubs. That Mbappé cannot go from PSG to Madrid; Haaland cannot sign for City or Arsenal. It certainly has no prospect of prospering. Generation lost?
Resuming the thread, according to the experts consulted, the current scenario will provoke the entry into football of new financial agents to rearm the weakened current accounts. More sponsorships in the form of surnames for stadiums, the appearance of investment funds and above all the exploitation of commercial opportunities offered by the digital space. In this sense, Laporta disclosed in campaign that a formula that he would use to plug the bleeding of the debt would consist of the issuance of bonds, which is still a request for credit, not to traditional banks, with which the Barça entity already it owes too much, but with investment funds, for example, to which part of that debt would be transferred. Beyond the question of figures, there is a speculative element about the effects of the stoppage of competitions in lower categories. How will it affect the boys not being able to train or compete for so many months? Can we speak of a lost generation? If an injury that causes long inactivity truncates careers, can the same thing happen now? There is no certain answer yet. It will be seen in a few years.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.