Saturday, April 10, 2021

Fans must return to the stadiums

Its now been year and a half since Covid19 and for most of that time stadiums have been empty. This has caused major financial troubles especially for the smaller clubs, the big clubs like Manchester City or Bayern Munich or Real Madrid have major sponsors and gigantic fanbases, over 80% of their income is other than ticket sales, but smaller clubs rely very much on their ticket sales, in fact for some clubs ticket sales account for about 50% of their income, so being without audiences for year and a half and as it seems likely even two years, governments and football associations must begin to think about opening up and allowing people back into the stadiums, before a permanent financial damage is done and clubs start going bankrupt left and right.

Whether it starts with stadiums only being able to be half full, whether masks are required to attend the games, whatever the case might be, stadiums need to start opening up. You can not have empty stadiums forever, you can not have no fans in matches forever, its unrealistic and dangerous. The fact that governments haven't even thought about the possibility of returning fans is mind blowing, especially as we are closing in on two years of complete shutdown of stadiums, not just in football, but in all other sports. Major financial damage is being done and can't be undone, can't be fixed, can't be reversed, you have clubs like ours who were already in a bad financial situation and not being able to generate revenue through tickets is really destroying Valencia CF. 

This coming summer we would have to sell players in the region of 30+ million euros just to balance the books and realistically sell players worth at least 40 million in order to actually be able to bring in cheap replacements. That is not to mention that we have to reduce salaries by at least 20 million euros, so several players are basically on the sales list, players like Goncalo Guedes, Cillessen, Maxi Gomez, Gaya, etc... Maxi Gomez would not be a big loss, he hasn't paid off for us, hasn't really scored a lot of goals, so we could sell him and be okay, but the question is how much money is a washed up Maxi Gomez going to bring us? Will any club pay 20 million euros for him at his current form? Cillessen is a great goalkeeper, but goalkeepers don't really sell for too much and he isn't a young goalkeeper, so even if we sell him how much money is Valencia CF going to get for him? Can we even reach 15 million euros for Cillessen, I don't think so. 

The only solution I see it to start allowing fans back into the stadiums, that is likely going to be additional 5 to 10 million euros even with a reduced capacity. Mestalla can have up to 55.000 people, so even if its only half that is allowed at first, that is still over 25k people. Again whether you require masks, only half can be filled with a chair between people or whatever, the process of getting people back into the stadiums needs to start. Considering that by now probably a good 1/4th of people have had covid19 and are likely immune to most variants, considering vaccines are now available and good 10-20% of populations around Europe have already had them and by the summer probably additional 15-30% will get a vaccine, we are looking at half the population being immunized either naturally or through a vaccine by which point it has to be safe to return to normal life. 

Again the process has to be started, be more careful at first and over time allow more and more fans to return to the stadiums. Some people will not even want to return even if there are no restrictions, they will not want to take the risk, so its not like if they allow people to return to stadiums we are going to be seeing the same numbers as before Covid19, its likely that there is going to be a significant percentage that will not want to buy tickets and go to the stadiums. So I think its 100% doable to start allowing people back into stadiums, start with smaller numbers and then ramp it up over the course of the whole year.