Due to the growing effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the football world has come to a standstill with speculation mounting on what the future will bring and how it will have an overall impact in the global game. Similar to many other leagues in Europe, the SPFL, in conjunction with the SFA, decided to suspend all professional football until further notice on Friday. However, the governing bodies will have to make up their minds and come up with a realistic solution on how to respond after consulting with UEFA.
There is a lingering possibility that the whole season might be ended prematurely, which could mean that the SPFL will declare Celtic, who have a 13-point lead over Rangers, as the Scottish champions. At the same time, Hearts, who are rock bottom of the league table, will be relegated.
Media Doing The Spin On Why Calling The Season Void Would Be Catastrophic
Most of the media is already doing the bidding of a particular club on why this season cannot be called off. The claim is that if SPFL declares the current campaign null and void, then all the professional football clubs in Scotland will be facing a massive loss in terms of their revenue from the broadcasters and supporters. The contention thus is that the current standings must be set in stone and Celtic must be crowned champions.
Take this interview in The Glasgow Times, for example. Dr Dan Plumley, a senior lecturer in sport business at Sheffield Hallam University, talked about the major financial consequences of the league season getting called off. He said (via The Glasgow Times), “There have been some rough estimates with regards to TV deals. La Liga have come out and said if the season was to be cancelled now they would be looking at (paying back) £750 million against the broadcasting deal. The Premier League in England would be similar.
“These are just estimates because nobody knows how this is going to pan out, but we are certainly not talking small numbers.”
We looked at this statement from Dr Plumley, and we must say that this feels like more propaganda to award Celtic the title. While Dr Plumley’s intention might not be to mislead people, the comparisons with La Liga to Premier League to the Scottish Premiership is comparing apples to oranges to grapes. They are simply not the same.
For example here is what Forbes had to say about the difference: “The ratio between the lowest-earning team and the highest-earning team in La Liga in 2018/19 was 1:3.7. The Premier League’s ratio from least to most 1:1.6. The lower the ratio, the more equitable is the distribution formula.”
Also, SPFL makes around £32m per year from their broadcast deal. So the £750m figure being bandied about to scare people is simply not true. Also, what happens if broadcasters like Sky want their money back? Does anyone believe that the fans of clubs like Rangers or Hearts will not ask for their money back from August until now from Sky or others? That is a rabbit’s hole no broadcast company will enter, certainly not for £32m per year.
With so much uncertainty surrounding the beautiful game at the moment, the football governing bodies across Europe cannot take any decision willy-nilly. If they do so, then that decision could have major financial repercussions on their teams which might even hamper some of their overall growth in the long-run. In fact, Hearts are apparently ready to file a legal case if they are relegated based on their current standing. Truth be told, we cannot disagree.
Busting The Myth
It seems like the only logical option for the SPFL would be to suspend the season until it is safe to play football again. They should undeniably think about the global impact and come up with a reasonable solution so that football can take centre-stage once again in Scotland. With Rangers sitting 13 points away from the top spot, with a game in hand and also having two derbies versus Celtic to look forward to, we can assume that the title race in Scotland is far from done. The lead could be cut back to just four points if things got to plan for Steven Gerrard’s men. Hence, it is only fair to play out the whole season so that the Bears have a chance to set-up an exciting finish in the Scottish top-flight.
Hearts also deserve a shot to retain their top-flight status and avoiding relegation could save them millions in revenue in the long-run.
However, in the scenario of no more matches can be played in the Scottish Premiership, we simply cannot see how Celtic can be crowned champions or Hearts be relegated based on their current standing. Don’t fall for the spin; do the research yourself.