Category Archives: COVID-19

Manchester United warn of long-term economic effect of COVID-19 virus

On this day 21 years ago, ITV’s Clive Tyldesley uttered those famous words in Barcelona:

“Sheringham and Solskjaer has won it!  Manchester United have won it.”

Subsequently, The Red Devils lifted the Champions League for only the second time in their history, in so doing they completed the famous 1999 treble consisting of the Premier League, FA Cup and the prestigious European Trophy.

Fast-forward to the here and now, Manchester United has forecast that annual revenue would fall for the first time in five years after its failure to qualify for this season’s UEFA Champions League.

Manchester United say the coronavirus pandemic has cost them an initial £28 million – and expect the final figure to be far higher.

Manchester United’s Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said:

“Our third-quarter results reflect a partial impact that the pandemic has had on the club but the greater impact will be in the current quarter and likely beyond.

“These are unprecedented times and we must recognise that this crisis will not disappear overnight.

“However, our club is built on a solid foundation. We remain firmly optimistic about the long-term prospects for the club once we have worked our way through what is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary and testing periods in the 142-year history of Manchester United.”

United, however, do have history of coming back from adverse situations, most notably the Munich air disaster that affected Sir Matt Busby’s ‘Busby Babes’ in 1958.

One of the clubs best ever a player at the time, Duncan Edwards, was among them.  That year they would go onto to some how make the FA Cup final and just 12 years after that fatal incident they would lift their first European Trophy in 1968.

Chief financial officer, Cliff Baty, estimated the lockdown cost United £23 million in the final two weeks of March because of the postponement of one Premier League away fixture (worth four million pounds at Tottenham Hotspur), a home Europa League last-16 tie against LASK (Linzer Athletik- Sport- Klub), the FA Cup quarter-final at Norwich City, broadcasting reductions plus the closure of the Old Trafford megastore, Red Cafe and United Events.

The managing director, Richard Arnold, said:

“The economic ramifications from this global pandemic will continue to resonate for years to come, but we remain optimistic about the long-term outlook for the sponsorship business and our ability to remain a leader within the market.”

United are also waiting on the Football Association to make some crucial decisions that could have a big impact on their interim future.

The Football Association will remain determined to get the FA Cup, which is up to the quarter-final stage, played.

Wembley Way is quiet due to the current crisis. If the FA Cup does get back up and running this season then Wembley Way will still be silent when the final is played. The idea of football returning without fans and an empty stadium will be a quite a different feeling for the players.

That might be as good a reason as any to cancel it. Will winning the FA Cup when no fans are there to celebrate really feel like winning the FA Cup at all?

For now United’s teams are waiting to hear how their chances of lifting a trophy this season are going to be affected by football’s new terrain.

Article written by Subeer Suri

How can Home teams overcome lack of fans?

Could the way forward for football in England when it gets back to playing behind closed doors, consist of artificial crowd noise?

Well, daft as this may seem to some people, the English Football League is considering putting this to the Championship clubs, the majority of whom returned back to training on Monday.

One club, Bristol City are already discussing varying innovations at the club with Premier League Brighton also discussing the possibility of pumping crowd noise for their forthcoming games.

Already the broadcasters in Germany have offered the option of fake fan noise during RB Leipzig’s win at Mainz at the weekend, while Borussia Monchengladbach utilised 12,000 cardboard cut-outs of fans.

This begs the question, when the Championship along with the Premiership can get back to playing again? Albeit behind closed doors, do we really need the sound of fan noise pumped into an already empty stadium and cardboard cut outs as well?

Yes of course football will never be the same without actual fans at games, but remember we are currently living in a time when we must expect this practice never being seen again for a long time.

The thought of having artificial noise inside stadiums mainly to help the home side really isn’t working now. Take the Bundesliga for example. Since the restart of football in Germany, there has only been three home wins from 18 matches played. So, the theory of home teams having a big advantage even in games played behind closed doors simply doesn’t work.

Any games played behind closed doors offers a level playing field to both sides, and honestly, we don’t need pumped music, or fan noise during games along with cardboard cut outs of fans.

It’s certainly taken a little while for players to get used to the new experience of playing in front of empty stadiums, but they are used to it by now. They don’t need extra noise to improve their performances.

Fans will gradually get used to the sight of unfilled grounds with no noise. Unfortunately, it is a slow process of the way football is going to look for a long time to come. The message to football fans at the minute should be this, no noise and no actual fans at grounds is different, but in the present world we live in it has to be either this or no football played in front of anybody.

Article written by Peter Moore

Hull City reveal two positive COVID-19 tests after first round of testing in Championship

Sky Bet Championship outfit Hull City have confirmed they are the club who have returned two positive results during their coronavirus testing on Friday.

The EFL released a statement on Sunday lunchtime, to reveal that 1014 players and staff had been tested at 24 clubs, with only two individuals testing positive for the virus.

The Tigers, who have said they won’t reveal the identity of the individuals keeping in with medical confidentiality, released a statement on Sunday afternoon to say both of those were returned during the testing programme held at the clubs training ground on Friday.

Both players, whom are not to be identified, will now spend seven days self-isolating in line with EFL guidelines.

A statement released by the club this afternoon read:

“Hull City can confirm that two people have tested positive for Covid-19 following the first round of testing at the training ground.

“Medical confidentiality means the names will not be disclosed, and the Club asks for this to be respected.

“The duo, who are both asymptomatic and feeling no ill effects, will now self-isolate for seven days – in line with the protocols set out in EFL guidelines – before being tested again at a later date.

“The Club will continue to liaise closely with the affected personnel and will make no further comment.”

The Tigers vice-chairman Ehab Allam did write to the league and the other 23 clubs voicing his concerns about returning to action in the last week.

There were an initial letter which outlined “serious concerns” and calls to void the season, while another email was sent out on Friday reiterating their stance.

Allam wrote:

“I continue to strongly believe that Championship clubs are being exposed to entirely unnecessary legal and financial risks (and forced to overlook the health and safety concerns that exist) as a result of the inappropriate haste with which clubs are being encouraged to return to training by the EFL,

“I also retain serious concerns about the integrity of the competition (which in my opinion is more than simply upholding promotion and relegation at all costs) should some, but not all, of the remaining games of the 2019/20 season be played.”

Tottenham’s Serge Aurier breaks lockdown rules for third time, faces punishment from club

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

The quarantine life has been a difficult obstacle for everyone in the world to get through during the COVID-19 pandemic. For some, they will do whatever it takes to experience the life they once had before the chaos occurred. Serge Aurier, the right back for Tottenham, has become so desperate, he has broken the lockdown rules three times.

Most recently, Aurier shared three images on Instagram of himself getting a haircut, which has caused the North London side to launch an investigation for an apparent breach of social distancing rules.

Later, the Ivory Coast international responded to criticism of his latest action with another post on Instagram.

“My hairdresser is negative and me too so stop talking in a vacuum and put on masks and gloves when you come to take pictures at the training centre it’s part of the rules too.”

The 27-year-old has also been pictured training too close to teammate Moussa Sissoko and also was caught going out to run with a friend.

Given that this is his third time breaking the rules, Spurs are going to properly look into the situation and assess if they should punish the defender for his latest stunt.

Tottenham issued a statement that said:

“We are investigating the circumstances and will deal with the incident appropriately.”

Aurier is not the only player in the Premier League to break the lockdown rules. Manchester City defender Kyle Walker has broken social distancing guidelines by holding a party at his house and visiting his parents and sister in Sheffield. Also, Arsenal’s David Luiz, Granit Xhaka, Nicolas Pepe, and Alexandre Lacazette broke were spoken to after breaking the rules, specifically government, last month.

With the Premier League hoping to resume their season, Spurs could ask Aurier to self-isolate for seven days if the incident occurred after the leaguewide testing on Tuesday.

What next for the EFL Championship?

The rumblings of if and when football should return continues with Championship side Hull City.

The Tigers emerged as the first club in the second tier of football to oppose a resumption of the season, insisting the campaign must be voided in a letter sent to English Football League chairman Rick Parry.

Ehab Allam, the club’s vice-chairman, has written to Parry and the other 23 clubs in the championship to outline his serious concerns over football’s return amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Hull’s other concern is that they are disappointed that a club letter reportedly opposing the resumption of the Championship campaign had been leaked to the media.

The club stated that the correspondence was intended to remain private between the EFL and the other Championship clubs.

In the week that Championship clubs players were due to start coronavirus testing at least twice a week, with the possibility of a return to light training next Monday, news broke that no less than six positive results from over 740 coronavirus tests carried out by the Premier League, including three from Watford, could well back Allam’s message to the rest of the League.

So, in light of this news what impact will this have on other clubs decision when to restart the season. Unlike their counterparts in the two divisions of the football league, one of which has already decided to finish the season- EFL Division Two- Division One are still debating if their season should continue or not, with the likely outcome being to follow suit with Division Two and declaring the season stopped with promotion, play-offs and relegation all decided by PPG.

Whatever the outcome that the Championship sides eventually decide to go with, one scenario they surely can’t go with is to declare the season null and void. This must be the worst way of finishing any season in any sport. Having already played well over three quarters of a season already, you just can’t say to clubs that this is how we will close the season.

It will be grossly unfair on all players to end a long season this way, with no rewards at the end of it. There will always be arguments from different clubs about how to finish a season, but for the sake of football and sport there has to be some conclusion.

Yes, it won’t go down well with every club, however, in my opinion the fairest way of deciding any decision is on a points per game average. There will always be one or two clubs who would vote against this, depending on their current position in the league, but in sport, surely it is about pleasing the highest percentage of clubs.

In these unprecedented times that we are going through at the moment, difficult decisions have to be made by people who have never been put in this awkward position before.

For the sake of football, lets hope whatever decisions are made will be for the good of the game.

Article written by Peter Moore