Calling off season is not an option: La Liga chief
Spain's football industry is one of many-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and like any other sector, next steps will depend on the advice of health authorities
Spanish League LaLiga President Javier Tebas has made it clear that cancelling the 2019/20 season is not an option and they are exploring various options and scenarios as the situation develops amid the ongoing outbreak of novel coronavirus. Spain's football industry is one of many-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and like any other sector, next steps will depend on the advice of health authorities. "Nulling and voiding the season is not an option on the table. But we are reviewing multiple scenarios, such as what happens if we play behind closed doors and what happens if we play with crowds and what happens if games aren't played," Tebas told reporters on videocall.
"We have to look at all possibilities, but we're not working towards a situation where we don't complete the season. "We're looking to ensure the best health conditions for players for when they resume training and we're looking to reduce the economic risk. "This is a health pandemic, but also an economic pandemic," he added.
The league President provided figures for each of these situations, outlining that the estimated total economic impact for not resuming the season would be 1bn euros. Completing the season behind closed doors would lead to losses of 300m euros and it would be 150m euros for resuming it with fans after this delay. On the likelihood of matches being resumed behind closed doors, Tebas said: "We will not have fans until the health authorities allow it. The decision does not depend on LaLiga or the clubs. We know it can affect future seasons so we are calculating the potential impact."
Tebas explained that LaLiga is considering all of the finer details that various scenarios could entail, such as whether or not matches can be held at the usual stadiums due to planned renovation works, the need to extend player contracts, pending fees due to clubs from past transfers, maintaining Financial Fair Play rules, payments from broadcasters and the knock-on effects for the 2020/21 season.
Tebas also mentioned that the last weekend of May is the first possible date for LaLiga to resume, with European competitions playing in July. A later option would be for LaLiga and European competitions to start on June 6 and play an alternating schedule. Finally, LaLiga and other domestic leagues could start on June 28 with European competitions starting again in August after the domestic leagues finish.
"We can't put an exact date on when we'll return as the Spanish government's health authorities have to set that," he said. "There are two options for organising the schedules, one with domestic leagues at the weekends and European matches midweek or another option is to work towards finishing the domestic leagues first." The league President also underlined that the football industry plays a major role in Spain's economy. It accounts for 1.37 percent of Spain's GDP and an estimated 185,000 jobs, meaning that any losses suffered could have a domino effect elsewhere.
"The most important aspect of this is that we protect our future," Tebas noted. "What we're working towards here is to save the future of football."
"By acting now, we can ensure that we have a sustainable model," he added."We will not forget the responsibilities we have to everyone."
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