In Brief

Coronavirus: British sport faces bankruptcy the longer the lockdown lasts

Loss of gate revenue threatens to devastate clubs and organisations

Sport in the UK could find itself locked down until 2021, claims The Daily Telegraph, in a warning that will send a chill through clubs, organisations and governing bodies.

With the calendar wiped out for the foreseeable future, many sports have been consoling themselves with the thought that come late summer things should be back to normal, but there are ominous signs from the government that it won’t be the case.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday that the country “must keep the social distancing measures in place” to avoid a second wave of coronavirus cases, a message echoed by Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister.

The Telegraph says that sports are “desperate for clarification over both that timeframe and how social distancing measures may specifically apply to participants and crowds”, given that it’s the loss of gate revenue that threatens to devastate sport. 

Among those most in danger of going to the wall are dozens of football clubs and as many as “15 Olympic and Paralympic sports”.

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No fans, no money

The news that German football plans to relaunch the Bundesliga on 9 May behind closed doors received a muted response in England. 

“What is the point in football behind closed doors?” one senior figure in the professional game told the Telegraph. “OK, a few games to get the season finished [but] sooner or later, you have to stand back and think, ‘What are we trying to do?’”

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber said he was “shocked” that the country could be asked to social distance until the end of the year, and maybe beyond for some age groups, saying: “It concerns me hugely for football as a whole. It will put many clubs in a very, very difficult financial position.”

Rugby faces ruin

Although a return to action even behind closed doors would be good news for the Premier League clubs, who would get money from broadcasters, lower down the football food chain, no fans means no revenue, so how do clubs pay their staff?

The Times says that “the loss of matchday income would be huge - some clubs in the English Football League believe it would send many to the wall unless revenue could be found from another source”. 

The paper also highlights the impacts on other sports, notably rugby union, with the Rugby Football Union generating 85% of its annual £213m income from matches held at Twickenham.

Today’s back pages

Uefa decision is good news for Liverpool and ECB to hold cricket crisis meeting

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