The beautiful game could be the latest victim of increasingly onerous coronavirus containment measures, with reports suggesting that all football matches in England could be played behind closed doors as early as Thursday (12 March)
Any action to lock out spectators from play offs could generate significant uncertainty for Premier League sponsors like Coca-Cola, which will have to navigate the disruption while minimising the impact on sponsorship ROI.
The unprecedented measure would be one of the most dramatic moves yet undertaken by the UK government to contain the outbreak and will be decided upon at a Cobra cabinet meeting this morning amid a widely held expectation that the nation is poised to move from the ‘contain’ phase of the pandemic to ‘delay’.
Should the blanket attendance ban be brought into force ticket holders will have to log in to iFollow streams to view matches from their homes as stadiums are sealed off and pubs potentially banned from screening matches to prevent groups of fans from congregating.
Broadcasters look to be swept up in the clampdown with Premier League matches no longer to be shown during the prime 3pm slot on Saturdays. However, according to the Times provisions will allow for more than one Premier League game to be screened during lunch and dinner time slots.
One of the biggest potential sporting casualties is the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which could be postponed; a more that could prove catastrophic for long-term sponsors such as Visa and newbies like Airbnb.