It’s plain to see that the world of soccer has changed: fans are no longer in stadiums, teams are taking extra precautions while training and some leagues have not formulated a return to action.
These may seem like temporary adjustments for the pandemic, but there are many ways in which the beautiful game will change permanently.
Speaking with Spanish Media, Leo Messi has admitted the world’s game is set for a big change. “Soccer will never be the same,” said the Barcelona star. "But not only soccer—I think that life in general will never be the same."
Messi is absolutely right. It’s hard not to notice that the game looks very different right now—from games behind closed doors, to heightened safety protocols and truncated competitions.
These may all appear to be short-term changes, but the pandemic will have a knock-on effect that could make permanent changes to the sport.
For starters, we could see a significant drop in the financial power of teams of all sizes
As unemployment rises and corporations have less money to spend on sponsorship budgets, the value of commercial partnerships and TV revenues will decrease.
That means less money for teams and player wages.
And since it is unlikely that stadiums will be completely full around the world until a vaccine is in place, teams will also find themselves hit by huge drops in match day revenues.
The financial bubble is bursting, and while revenues will eventually build up again, it may change the way clubs do business.
As teams the size of Barcelona have struggled, it’s clear teams will need to operate with more cash in hand, and more within their means.
Crucially, the desire of the big clubs to keep revenue coming in could also expedite the inevitable arrival of a breakaway European Super League, which would permanently change the face of the sport.
And, by extension, as clubs break away, we’ll likely see more and more small-to-medium size teams go out of business, as they fail to compete with those on the very biggest stage.
The pandemic may also affect the mechanisms of the transfer market. We’ll likely see less action in the next few transfer windows, a lot more loan deals, and Barca president Josep Bartomeu is among those who we’ll see a lot more straight swap deals in lieu of cash.
The beautiful game will eventually return and stadiums will fill again. But the game, like the world has changed.
For more on the beautiful game - follow @FCYahoo on your favorite social channels…and stay up to date on Yahoo Sports.