By the time football resumes and the western world starts to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, we could be looking at a very different financial, economic, and perhaps even societal landscape. It’s hard to grasp the magnitude of an event that’s literally altering the course of human civilization as it’s happening live, but we’ll be telling stories of these long and lonely days for an even longer time to come.
But eventually we will start to pick things back up, and at some point, even football will return as well. Its constructs and base assumptions at the professional level might look very different. Many expect smaller teams and teams in lower leagues to have failed financially by then, for example. It’s going to take concerted effort from those with the means, to help out those without — and that will be true at macro-economic, local, and sporting-level as well.
Teams at the top will also feel the impact of course, though their risk in general won’t be liquidation, but rather just a bit of austerity — though that could change as well if we can’t finish the season and suddenly we’re left with unpaid bills and unfulfilled contracts with those who are pouring in the money normally.
One potential knock-on effect of all this that’s getting some coverage in the media today is FIFA’s willingness to keep the summer transfer window open all the way through to January. It’s unclear when this window might actually start, but what is clear is that there won’t be as much money floating about as in recent years. And so, in an apparent bid to stimulate the market, FIFA will propose keeping the next transfer window open longer, perhaps as long as the next transfer window after that.
In a way, it would be a throwback to the days before transfer windows, which really isn’t as far back as we might imagine (despite its ubiquitous presence in this sport and, in some equivalent form, most other professional sports). In fact, official transfer windows, instituted in 2002-03, are only a little bit older than Roman Abramovich’s ownership of Chelsea!
So, FIFA’s proposal certainly wouldn’t be an outrageous break with precedence, and in this case, it could be a smart move indeed.