Football: Agnelli fears €8.5 billion in Covid-19 losses for European clubs

Andrea Agnelli said he wants clubs to have a greater say in the running of the game. PHOTO: REUTERS

MILAN (REUTERS) - The head of the European Club Association, Juventus president Andrea Agnelli, says the game is facing much heavier Covid-19 impacted losses than predicted, up to €8.5 billion (S$13.7 billion), with no fan return to stadiums in sight this season.

Agnelli, who is at the centre of negotiations over the future of Uefa's Champions League, also said he wanted his organisation to have the final say on planned changes to the competition and wants clubs to have a greater say in the running of the game.

The influential Italian said that Deloitte's prediction on Tuesday (Jan 26) of losses in revenue of more than €2 billion by the end of the current season for the top 20 clubs, had underestimated the impact of a full season without fans in stadiums.

"Two cycles have been fully impacted. I have seen the Deloitte study... I was looking at data from the top 20 clubs whereby we had a 1.1 billion hit in the 19-20 season and the estimate for those 20 clubs alone at 2 billion hit for the combined two years," he said at the virtual Think Sport 2021, the annual conference event organised by the business intelligence agency News Tank Football.

"I think it's going to be much worse than that as the 19-20 season only had three or four months with no fans in the stadiums, commercial rebates, broadcasting rebates and as it seems right now, from my point of observation, 2021 will be a full season without fans in the stadiums.

"I think this season will be much worse. When I look at the best information I've had so far, we're looking at a bottom line loss for the industry in the region of 6.5 billion to 8.5 million for the combined two years and about 360 clubs in need for cash injections, whether it is debt or equity, within those two years for an amount of 6 billion," Agnelli added.

There have been several moves into European football from US-based investors and private equity funds during the Covid-19 crisis, including in Italy.

Serie A is finalising the sale of a 10 per cent stake in its new media unit to the private equity consortium including CVC, Advent and state-backed Italian fund FSI as it seeks to boost revenue and weather the coronavirus financial storm.

"They're not NGOs (non-governmental organisations), so they're doing that because they see an opportunity in our industry. If you look at the past 20 years we've seen double digit growth... that is the real value, which is our intellectual property rights and how these are managed," Agnelli said.

"We're better than a utility in terms of the cash flows that we can generate and they are putting their eyes on that."

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