Robert Sarver, owner of Phoenix Suns and Real Mallorca. | J. TORRES


After a week when a pub in London (before the lockdown) displayed on a blackboard outside “Beer shortage soon – panic buy here!” – with matches being suspended across Europe, clubs are starting to feel the pinch financially with a decrease in income forcing them to adjust their pre-arranged budgets.

It seems inevitable that the economic landscape of football is going to be changed for the foreseeable future with clubs losing a lot of money that they had either already spent or budgeted to have in the future.

For Real Mallorca’s American owner, multi-millionaire banker Robert Sarver, the coronavirus has given him a double whammy headache as his NBA basketball franchise, Phoenix Suns, season was suspended last week (with 25% of the schedule left to play) after a Utah JAZZ player tested positive for the virus. The decision came after escalating anxiety about the potential for unchecked transmission of the virus amongst fans attending sporting events. The money generated by his basketball interests makes the Mallorca project pale into insignificance.

Head of La Liga, Javier Tebas, refuses to give in and still feels it’s possible to complete the fixture list in Spain sooner than later!!

Tebas has plans in place for any changes that the pandemic forces them to make. His attitude seems to be to make light of the tragedy we’re going through as he offers hope to the live-football-starved fans. In reality nobody knows when football in Spain will be resumed or even completed, especially as it now seems certain the state of emergency will be extended to include the Easter period which ends on April 12.

A German virologist admitted on Sky Germany last week that he doesn’t expect football to be able to resume until next year and said it wasn’t realistic to think that the current season can be completed – the term “in the lap of the gods” comes to mind.

A top Spanish economist, Jose Maria Gay de Liebana, stated on Friday that players in top flight Spanish football should forgo some of their salaries as a gesture to help stricken clubs to avoid serious problems.

De Liebana said the current situation for Spanish clubs during the coronavirus pandemic has reached a very critical moment. He went on “If the suspension of competitions continues for several more weeks, the federations should declare all of the domestic tournaments null and void, and start again from zero next season to avoid any injustice.”
Some football clubs could disappear because of the present crisis. “We are in uncharted waters with risks we haven’t seen the like of before. Many clubs live beyond their means and the football industry is a bubble waiting to pop.”

He feels that the current crisis will leave many clubs in the lower echelons fighting for survival and that some of them who rely solely on gate money to get by could disappear altogether. Many of them, especially in England, survive as a rich guy’s hobby, and those guys are now likely to have other priorities. De Liebana finished by making a plea to players and their agents to relinquish a percentage of their salary to help the poorer teams. “We all need to help each other at this moment as we’re faced with a bleak scenario. All clubs are losing vital revenue – income from TV broadcasting rights, marketing and gate receipts.”

If there are no competitions, the sponsors (in Real Mallorca’s case the main one being BetFred) could argue that their product has stopped being shown in the grounds and on TV and could ask for some recompense. The present situation is serious but not critical as many La Liga clubs will when, and if, the season returns, have to make sacrifices.

PS The NHS has urgently requested that all top flight football physios help out. Their ability to cure what seem to be critical injuries in less than 30 seconds will soon help put an end to this ghastly epidemic.

AND FINALLY, John bought a donkey from a farmer for £100 and the farmer agreed to deliver the donkey. The next day the farmer told John “Sorry, son, but I have some bad news – the donkey’s dead.” John said “Well, if that’s the case, give me my money back.”
The farmed replied that he couldn’t because he’d spent it.

John answered “Okay, then just bring me the donkey.” The farmer, curious, asked “What are you going to do with him?” John said “I’m going to raffle him off.” The farmer was outraged. “You can’t raffle a dead donkey.” John disagreed, “Sure I can, just watch me. I just won’t tell anybody that the donkey’s dead.”

A month went by and the farmer met up with John, asking “What happened with that dead donkey?” John tells him “I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at £2 a piece and made a profit of £898.”

The farmer was intrigued, “Didn’t anybody complain?” John replied, “Just the guy who won, so I gave him his two quid back!!”