The impact of the deadly coronavirus pandemic on football has been widely felt with suspended leagues, players and staff forced to cut salaries and little certainty about when the action will start again.
What is already becoming clear is that the corona virus will have a huge impact on the transfer market, budgets, player contracts and summer football recruitment as club finances are hit hard.
The Premier League transfer window is still scheduled to open on June 10, but it seems increasingly likely that matches from the current campaign will still take place.
How will the corona virus crisis this summer affect the football transfer market and possible moves such as Jadon Sancho’s return to the Premier League?
Clubs continue to do their best to complete due diligence on summer goals, draw up shortlists, and first inform players and their agents.
But all of these activities take place against the background of uncertainty about when and whether football will return to normal and what the consequences of the coronavirus will be.
Sports email elaborates on the influence of Covid-19 on the football transfer market.
There are consensus among Premier League clubs that the summer transfer window will be extended as the start of the 2020-21 season is reversed.
While Britain is struggling to contain the coronavirus, and the death toll is rising, it is clear that football will not be played for several weeks, even months.
There is a collective effort within football to get games back on track once that is safe, even if it means playing behind closed doors for a television audience, as it means a return to some sort of normality.
But there will be a knock-on effect on the transfer window, with one proposal to extend it from the end of the current campaign through January.
It’s almost a throwback to the pre-2003 days of the year-round transfer market before FIFA introduced the window system.
Birmingham City’s Jude Bellingham is being touted with a summer move elsewhere
Most clubs, especially at the top end of the Premier League, will not change the transfer priorities already set for the summer period.
Their goals as to which positions to strengthen will not be affected by the closure – for example, West Ham wants a right back and Southampton a defensive midfielder – but the money they have available to spend on those goals may change.
It all depends on the colossal amounts that Premier League clubs receive from the television companies and whether these revenues, which they have all budgeted for, are received in full.
TV companies at home and abroad can claim discounts of up to £ 762 million if the season is not completed due to a July 16 contract break.
Premier League clubs could significantly impact budgets if influential television rights holders refuse to pay during the current corona virus shutdown
It goes without saying that this could blow a huge hole in the clubs’ planned transfer budgets. They should be cut across the board if TV revenues are withheld.
Some identified goals must be forgotten, while some non-contracted players must be retained rather than replaced.
Some clubs have to sell sellers if the expected TV money doesn’t arrive to recoup vital funds.
For example, Adam Lallana from Liverpool has a lot of interest from Leicester and Willian from Chelsea is on Tottenham’s radar, but their clubs can ultimately opt for the cheaper option of keeping them.
Crystal Palace expects Wilfried Zaha to leave in the summer and has identified three replacements, including Allan Saint-Maximin from Newcastle.
Crystal Palace saw Wilfried Zaha leave this summer with replacements in line
However, the corona virus is still questioning all activities in the transfer market.
“Football is a bit like a merry-go-round where you have the money from the media rights that drive the growth of wages, expenses and transfer fees,” said Trevor Watkins, Global Head of Sport at the Pinsent Masons law firm. Sports email.
“It’s a reasonable assumption that every club has budgeted every league based on” this is the money coming in, this is the money coming out “, and now the merry-go-round has stalled.
“So in this catastrophic situation where a large number of European teams may not be able to make their payments, the fairest way forward would be for leagues to ensure that each club is protected.
“That could be by automatically extending the period during which the transfer fees must be paid or, in an extreme situation, a UEFA-led solution that comes with a suspended animation mechanism suspending transfer obligations.”
Clubs will continue to use this time to forward plans as goals have long been set – in many cases before December.
But completing the necessary due diligence for each player has become considerably more difficult without live football.
Scouts will use home working to view players and compile reports with platforms such as WyScout, which contains an archive of video clips of matches at all levels of the game.
That’s fine for attribute assessment, but personal live game scouting is required to build a player’s personality and character profile, which is just as important to get the full picture.
Arsenal’s Under 23 side play Monaco before shutdown – chances for scouts to see players live are gone, meaning due diligence on transfer goals is difficult
A scout explains, “The clips show certain aspects, but you have to be with the game to assess how they respond to certain situations. For example, do they follow back, how do they respond to a tackle?
“It makes things considerably more difficult. There will be clubs that planned to observe targets between now and the end of the season to complete the due diligence, putting them in a really perilous situation. ‘
And the postponement of Euro 2020 and the Olympics until next year has been removed to provide prime scouting opportunities to the top level players.
Nevertheless, most of the homework has already been completed and most clubs will have reduced their longlist of players in a given position to a shortlist of three.
Indeed, Newcastle met with scouts about potential acquisitions on Monday… the same day the club announced that the staff would be fired.
The lead clubs will use the downtime to remind the main targets that they are very much on their minds – an attempt to keep the wheels spinning.
This will be the case, for example, with Manchester United and summer goals Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham. There will be regular contact with agents to keep things going.
Negotiations are underway, the personal discussions currently excluded by social distance and travel restrictions are not really essential at this time.
Jack Grealish, the captain of Aston Villa, is strongly linked with a move to Man United
The nuts and bolts of most transfer deals are done via WhatsApp, FaceTime and Skype anyway.
But one of the most important officers came forward Sports email that it is currently “very quiet” than usual in April because of the uncertainty.
Another told Sports email: ‘There are currently things in motion, but we are not far above a standstill. It is difficult to get a handle on deals. Clubs will talk, but they just don’t know when the window will open and what their budget will be. ‘
We would be about to survive the strongest in the transfer market due to the coronavirus crisis with clubs of all sizes in the pocket.
Some will now have to sell assets, which previously was not the case, with the possibility of a fire sale at some clubs in Italy, Germany and France that are already financially crippled.
French club Lille, for example, is willing to sell their talented Nigerian attacker Victor Osimhen but is asking £ 80 million which is fantasy.
Lille is asking £ 80m for their Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen, but like many clubs hit financially by the corona virus, they will have to cut their price
But other top players like Sancho will keep their £ 100 million value and will get a lot of interest, with Man United and Chelsea tied.
But the value of most players is likely to drop. For example, Everton is close to a deal with Gabriel Magalhaes in Lille, but let it drift in hopes of getting a better price.
Some hope this is the reset needed in the market after years of high transfer costs, especially when it comes to Premier League clubs, which often pay more than their European rivals.
However, Watkins believes that lower prices will “prove to be a short-lived blip.”
He adds: ‘At the moment there is a lot of goodwill about it. Everyone is looking for solutions and is trying to find a way forward that works for everyone.
“But that period may be short-lived because deadlines are set and payments are due.”
And the lower-class clubs that are still hoping for a richer Premier League award will have to remember that this won’t be forgotten when the bigger clubs come to pick their best talent.
A major concern within the game is that most player contracts and loan agreements expire on June 30 and it seems inevitable that the season will now continue.
The biggest complication is those players who have already signed contracts with new clubs for next season and are overlapping. An example is Hakim Ziyech, who will come to Chelsea from Ajax on 1 July.
But FIFPRO, the world players’ union, is optimistic about a “harmonized solution” that would extend contracts until the day the season actually ends.
Ajax Hakim Ziyech’s flying winger will officially become a Chelsea player on July 1, but this can cause problems if the season is extended beyond that point
“You could say the spirit of the contract is that it runs until the season is over and that a new contract starts with a new season,” said FIFPRO general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann.
Nonetheless, there are legal obstacles to making such an extension mandatory and we are very concerned that we may find ourselves in a situation [clubs] choose who is being held for the last few months of the season and who is not. ‘
Watkins believes that the vast majority of players will be in step: “You may get one of two people who want to challenge their contractual position, but you should get a wholesale buy-in on a revised schedule to get everyone received.’
FIFA has also worked out a plan to help alleviate some of the problems caused by the pandemic.
With regard to contracts, they propose that expiring contracts be extended until the new season end date, with new contracts being reduced to the new season start date.
In the event of overlapping seasons, “priority must be given to the former club to complete their season with their original squad.” Loans would also be extended.
FIFA says they plan to approve any requests for transfer windows to shift back to the specific member associations to capture the specific dates.
We hope that this FIFA-driven proposal will help solve some of the many problems raised by these extraordinary times.