Virus destabilises lucrative transfer market contracts

Thursday, May 7th, 2020 00:00 |
Barcelona’s Argentine forward Leionel Messi in a past La Liga match.. Photo/PD/FILE

Paris, Wednesday

Player values could be slashed by £8.7billion if the current season cannot be completed due to the coronavirus pandemic, a new report claims.

And even if the leagues are able to finish their seasons behind closed doors, the drop off in value will be less severe but still hugely significant, at a reported £6bn.

The worrying projection comes with leagues across Europe grappling with how to restart their campaigns, with France’s Ligue 1 having already been forced to cancel.

If Europe’s other top leagues fall by the wayside it would see the value of its players drop by over a quarter, the report by KPMG claims

It would lead to a dramatic 26.5 per cent drop in the aggregate values of all the 4,183 players of its top 10 leading leagues - just since February.

According to their estimate, in the case of a cancellation of the football season the estimated revenue losses in the big five leagues could exceed £3.5bn.

However, completing the season this summer behind closed doors would lead to aggregate revenue losses of around one-third to one-fifth of the total loss estimated for a full cancellation, as seen in France. 

Clubs will have more money at their disposal if the season is able to continue as they won’t have to repay an enormous sum to TV broadcasters for unplayed games.

In the Premier League, clubs will have to pay back £762m if the 2019-20 season comes to a premature end.

Should play get back underway, with efforts underway to make it possible in England, Germany, Italy and Spain, player values would decrease by almost £6bn, a decrease of 17.7 per cent.  

If the seasons cannot pick up where they left then the big five leagues in Europe will bear the brunt of the loss in value at an enormous £7.4billion.

Premier League leaders Liverpool and Clasico rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid stand to be the clubs most affected by the crisis. 

Jurgen Klopp’s European Champions would drop in value by £209m from £1bn just three months ago to £791m if the season is cancelled.

Real Madrid, who have won three of the last five Champions League titles, would decrease by £258m from £1bn to £742m.

Barca, currently leading the table in Spain, would drop from a value of £991m to £705m, losing a staggering £286m in their squad’s value.

Manchester City are projected to retain the most valuable squad in Europe, dropping by 22 per cent if the season is cancelled to £840m.

PSG and Chelsea also look set to be hard hit. The Parisian giants could see their squad drop in value by 25.4 per cent to £608m, while the Europa League holders could decrease even further from £823m to £600m - a drop of 27 per cent.

Barcelona’s dramatic drop in value of 28.9 per cent is due in part to their relatively ageing squad and Lionel Messi’s contract situation.

The Ballon d’Or holder’s contract only runs until June 2021 and his individual value is set to drop by 27.5 per cent.

The report claims that the older the player, the higher the impact will be on his value.

Those or a lower age are assumed to be more resilient to the changes as they will have time to adjust to the post-lockdown universe.  

Messi’s value decrease is the highest by far of the top 10 in Europe. Those with years on their side, including England trio Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford will drop by just 13.8 per cent, 13.4 per cent and 11.4 per cent by comparison. 

Former Liverpool and Tottenham transfer chief Damien Comolli told Sky Sports News on Wednesday that Europe’s big clubs could use the crisis to ‘sweep the transfer market.

He said: ‘I’ve had discussions with some clubs around Europe and even the medium-sized clubs are thinking about it.

‘Clubs have a good chance to sign good young players. Maybe some up to £100m but getting five, six, seven players who could be the core of their team for years to come. 

‘Clubs who are prepared for this from a scouting point of view, a planning point of view, will be in a good position to do this.

I spoke to an agent in Belgium last week and he said his clients who were worth £30m in January are now worth £10m. 

‘You could sweep the market by getting some good young players at an incredibly decent price.

In the first week of the lockdown I was trying to find out what was happening in South America. The market hadn’t changed there yet because the virus hadn’t arrived. 

‘I got a call last week and what I said is happening. Clubs are panicking and you can buy the best talents at a very discounted price.

France, clubs are in big trouble. Monaco have got 71 players on contracts; they have some outstanding young centre-backs.

Belgium, as well. Standard Liege are reportedly about to go bankrupt. Those are the markets I would look at.’

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