Monday, October 18

More crisis, less layoffs | sports

The sudden dismissal of Thomas Tuchel on the PSG bench is the exception in the era of exceptions.

Financial prosperity, competitive companies and sustained growth prospects have been the cocktail that has fueled the biggest waves of coach layoffs in the soccer industry. Marked by the Covid-19 pandemic and the greatest economic crisis in the history of football, 2020 has been the most benevolent with the contracts of the chiefs of the bench. No fewer commitments were ever broken between the clubs and those primarily responsible for managing their squads. Neither in the calendar year, nor in the first third of the season until Christmas. So far this year 2020-21 only 13 technicians lost their jobs in the five main leagues in Europe. In the same period in 2019, between the League (6), Serie A (9), the Premier (9), the Bundesliga (7) and Ligue 1 (4), 35 coaches were fired.

Both in the Premier and in the League, the two benchmark national tournaments, the leaders have been more considerate than ever with their coaches. From August to Christmas 2019, the Premier fired nine technicians. Conditioned by budgets that cut their income between 20% and 50%, since the beginning of the pandemic, club administrators have been more cautious when weighing layoffs, due to the expense involved in the compensation of the outgoing coach and the contract of the entree. This year the Premier only registers a single dismissal. Slaven Bilic was replaced last week by Sam Allardyce at West Brom Albion, second to last.

The same contention is observed in the League. The absence of an audience in the stands helps to reduce the pressure that precipitates sharp decisions. If in the past season before Christmas the clubs fired six technicians, now there has hardly been a contract termination. The exception corresponds to Celta de Vigo. The Galician club fired Óscar García on the ninth day and signed Eduardo Coudet, alias Chacho. It was a very thoughtful step. The effects support the change.

When Celta fired Óscar the team was on the verge of relegation, in 17th position, and was the lowest scorer in the First Division with six goals. Considering the partial classification of the League between matchday 10th and 15th, Celta with Coudet would be the highest-scoring team of the tournament (14 points), and would be second-placed below Atlético, equaled 13 points with Sevilla and Real Madrid.

Stewart King, an executive at the consultancy Nolan Partners, which advises on recruiting matters to various clubs across Europe, this week told The New York Times that the mentality of the presidents has changed, from the ambition to improve to a mere desire for subsistence. “Now they just worry about getting out of this pandemic period anyway,” explains King; “There are clubs that always wanted to be in the top ten and now they are content with not relegation. What matters to them is to survive, and then they will see what the world looks like on the other side ”.

The sequence of dismissal figures in the first third of the season in the League, the Premier, Serie A, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 during the last decade reflects a slowdown. Computing all the dismissals of the five tournaments since the 2010-11 season, 22, 26, 23, 33, 18, 36, 33, 43, 29, 35 and 13 are successively counted.

If the statistics make the sudden dismissal of Thomas Tuchel from Paris Saint-Germain an exceptional event, the economic conditions of Ligue 1 deepen the paradox. Victim of a failed agreement with Mediapro, the audiovisual company managed by the Spanish Jaume Roures, the French league has lost 800 million euros this season. A third of the clubs are on the verge of bankruptcy. This is not the case of PSG, cradled by the liquidity of the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, which has also allowed it to pay the 222 million euros of the signing of Neymar – the highest in history – than to pay the compensation of Tuchel, which had just contract next June.

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