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13 Mar, 2020 16:29

COVID19 & cash: The financial implications of the coronovirus pandemic on sport

COVID19 & cash: The financial implications of the coronovirus pandemic on sport

The spread of COVID19 infections has wiped off dozens of events from the sports calendar, and also triggering huge money losses. RT Sport takes a look at the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic on sport.

Dozens of sporting events have been wiped from the sporting calendar in the wake of the growing coronavirus pandemic as governing bodies take stricter measures to prevent the spread of the deadly disease. 

Many more are in limbo, including the upcoming UFC 249 event in New York, the Euro 2020 football tournament - the first to be held pan-continentally - and this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

Fans have been prohibited from attending many events, creating a cash flow vacuum in the absence of gate revenue. RT Sport takes a look at the cash cost of the coronavirus on sport.

UFC 249

The news that governor of New York Andrew Cuomo announcing the state will cancel mass gatherings, the UFC 249 card headlined by the lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson at Barclays Center on April 18 could be in jeopardy.

Also on rt.com Relocation? Behind closed doors? Exploring UFC's options for Khabib v Ferguson should New York fight be canceled

The gate receipt for Khabib’s first fight in Brooklyn, in which he won the 155 lbs crown against Al Iaqinta at UFC 223, was around $3 million, which the company can kiss goodbye should the fight happen behind closed doors.

However, this could be leveled out by the pay per view buy rate. Khabib was involved in the biggest UFC PPV event ever against Conor McGregor in October 2018, but the fight with Iaqinta only topped a 350,000 pay per view buy rate.

His last fight with Dustin Poirier in Saudi Arabia made around 1 million ppv buys according to Khabib’s manager but the megafight with Tony would well be a lot higher.

Also on rt.com UFC 249: Khabib v Ferguson on brink of being CANCELED as New York bans gatherings of more than 500 people

In the event of a staggering fifth cancelation, the UFC would be forced to wave goodbye to both the gate receipts and the ppv buys, unless they find a quick option to relocate.

Khabib’s last fight reached 26 million adults in Russia, but revenue generated from those sales would likely be unaffected as Russian television channels will more than likely still fork out to broadcast the show on state TV.

La Liga 

Spain announced its top two divisions would be suspended for the next two match days after Real Madrid were sent into self-isolation after a basketball player from the club shut down the entire training center.

La Liga has announced it is expecting €700 million ($780 million) losses if the 2019/20 season cannot be completed. The bulk of that money is from television money, with an expected €500m being lost from rights to broadcast games, the rest made from game day gate receipts with €78m lost through season tickets and a further €39m through prospective match day tickets sales.

Also on rt.com Spain's La Liga SUSPENDED for two weeks due to coronavirus pandemic

Several top leagues on the continent also announced they would suspend their respective seasons, including Serie A, Germany’s Bundesliga as well as the Premier League.

Euro 2020

In the midst of a global pandemic, it is perhaps not an ideal time to host the first ever pan-continental European Championships, held from the most western points of Europea such as Ireland, Spain and Portugal to Azerbaijan in the eastern caucasus region.

The tournament has a total prize money of €371 million ($412m), the biggest amount available for a European Championships, with 10 million going to the winner. However, UEFA are set to convene with major stakeholders on Tuesday to discuss whether to postpone the tournament until 2021.

Also on rt.com 'Ready to lend a hand': Russia willing to host more games at Euro 2020 as coronavirus pandemic threatens tournament

With every one of next week’s scheduled European matches being postponed, including Champions League and Europa League fixtures, it is highly likely that European football’s governing body will follow suit and suspend this summer’s tournament.

That could mean great losses to the 12 host cities. Dublin is scheduled to host four games of the tournament, three group games and a round of 16 match, and commissioned a report that estimates the Irish capital will miss out on a potential €106m in additional economic activity the tournament would generate.

The Premier League

The Premier League announced on Friday it would suspend all games until April 3, their decision coming somewhat later than their European counterparts, but the financial crunch will be felt no lighter by the clubs, broadcasters and UK pubs alike.

Also on rt.com Premier League SUSPENDS all matches until April 3 due to coronavirus outbreak

PL clubs make a collective £720m ($900m) matchday sales profit, which accounts for around %14 of all revenue, according to The Financial Times. Each match is shown in the UK at a cost of £9m ($11.2m) to broadcasters, money which is immediately lost until early April.

READ MORE: UEFA SUSPEND all Champions League and Europa League matches due to coronavirus

And only then will the league again convene to review the situation before making a decision on whether to resume play. Should there be a continuation in cancelations, those matchday losses will continue to become deeper.


The peak of fear over the coronavirus spreading happens to fall in the month of ‘March Madness’, the men's Division I basketball tournament in the  National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). 

The tournament, which has been held every year since 1939 would have generated millions of dollars in the United States but has since been canceled due to the Covid-19 public health threat.

No March Madness games at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California represents a $5 million dollar loss for the city.

Sportswear giants such as Nike and Under Armour are also experiencing hits to shares since the NBA announced their league suspension.

Also on rt.com UEFA SUSPEND all Champions League and Europa League matches due to coronavirus