Why Premier League Clubs will have to Refund £340 Million to Broadcasters

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Premier League clubs may have to refund about £340 million to broadcasters because matches are not taking place as expected and because the remaining 92 games will be played without fans when the 2019-2020 season resumes. Also, when the season resumes, the matches will have to be aired at different times against the initial schedule.

Recall that the Premier League has been halted since March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, talks have been ongoing to fashion out a way the season can restart in June. One of the conditions that the Premier League has to meet in order to restart is that the remaining matches have to be played behind closed doors.

Besides the issue of playing behind closed doors which is not negotiable, when chief executives of the 20 clubs met on Monday, majority of the clubs said no to the idea of playing in neutral venues. Most of them want to complete the season using the usual home and away format.

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson has insisted that there was no way fans of Liverpool FC, which currently tops the league table with 25 points, won’t congregate outside the stadium when the club wins the league.

“It doesn’t matter what football club it was that was in the position that Liverpool are in, whether they were a London club, a Midlands club, a Manchester club or a Liverpool-based club, the issues would be similar,” Anderson said. “After a 30-year wait, people would be excited, people would want to go out and celebrate.”

So, whether the matches are played on home grounds or in neutral venues, there is little or nothing much that can be done to achieve total compliance to the social distancing guidelines when any club emerges the winner of the league.

In the other hand, there is nothing the clubs can do without losing some revenue amid the coronavirus pandemic. Before the crisis started, the clubs have already set their minds on earning a total of £9.2bn from broadcasters for the 2019-22 cycle. But that total earning from TV coverage could be badly affected whether the season resumes or not.

In April, the chief executive of the Premier League Richard Masters projected that clubs could lose “at least £1bn” if the Premier League failed to complete the 2019-20 season.

Still, after the clubs met on Monday, May 11, Master said: “We were able to update our clubs today on our situation with broadcasters, which is obviously confidential. Whatever happens, there’s going to be a significant loss of revenue for clubs. That is inevitable.

“We were able to paint a picture today about what would happen in various scenarios, playing out the season and not playing out the season, to allow them to have a picture of that as we stand in the early part of May. But in terms of putting an estimate on it, I don’t want to do that today.”

As at the time of publishing this report, the 20 clubs in the Premier League were meeting with the Premier League and the English FA on the way forward.