Coronavirus' impact on soccer could be felt for years to come

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The devastating impact of Coronavirus is changing on an hourly basis, and it has already caused plenty of disruption to soccer. Serie A is canceled until at least April, La Liga, and Euro 2020 playoffs are being played behind closed doors, and AFC World Cup qualifiers have been postponed through June. Champions League matches are also being played behind closed doors and there are reports the competition may be suspended entirely after the Round of 16.

In the Premier League, where pre-match handshakes have already been scrapped, Liverpool need only six more points to secure the title. It’s possible that they lift their long-awaited trophy in an empty stadium, with no celebration parade.

Soccer is facing its biggest disruption since World War II, which was the last time a major league was suspended. There will be a big knock-on effect in the short term, but the COVID-19 outbreak could have consequences that last for many years in the beautiful game.

For starters, if European league activity is postponed outside of Italy, it is likely that those leagues will overlap with the proposed staging of Euro 2020 this summer (and that tournament, by the way, is being held across 12 different countries, which is not ideal for virus containment).

If league seasons are ended early, instead of delayed, that would have huge and controversial impacts on Champions League qualifications, promotions, and relegations. The lawsuits and protests from clubs who have been denied a Champions League spot, a promotion, or who are unduly relegated, could last for years.

The suspension of games would be problematic, but it might actually be worse to keep playing games behind closed doors. Bigger clubs could afford it in the short term, but it could affect their spending power and quality on the field for a long time: Borussia Dortmund, for example, estimates it will cost them up to €3m per match day to play without fans.

But the real problems come for smaller sides who completely rely on ticket sales to stay afloat.
According to the Guardian, few Championship and lower league clubs are insured for missing income due to a public health epidemic, and they simply couldn’t afford to play to empty stadiums and issue supporter refunds.

Coronavirus could, therefore, cause a lot of teams to fall into financial ruin and go out of business, particularly those who are lower down in Europe’s league structures. For more on the beautiful game - follow @FCYahoo on your favorite social channels…

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