There’s been a very strong incentive for the hierarchy of the English Premier League to get “Project Restart” off as scheduled.
They’re going to lose a ton of money if they don’t, should any problem happened between now and June 17.
The EPL has to pay back broadcasters in the event there is a delay, which could come for any number of reasons, including positive coronavirus tests that could shelve players for up to two weeks. They have actually gotten pretty lucky with most of that – through the last two full rounds of testing, there has been a total of only one positive test.
But remember, some are expecting a second wave of the virus at some point, which is part of the rationale to get this season concluded with some haste.
The cost of any delays in the “product” getting delivered are 35 million pounds per week. And that would be a blow the league can ill-afford, inasmuch as they are already out 330 million pounds because they had to go on hiatus.
So that was enough motivation for the owners to come together on most of the agreements necessary to do the restart, including increasing the number of subs on a roster from seven to nine and making five of them (instead of three) usable in any given match.
The way it works in the Premier League, the higher-ranked teams in the standings (the “table,” as it were) get the most TV money. That means Liverpoool, with a 25-point lead, stands to be the most enriched, at 24.5 million. To offer some perspective, the last-place team, Norwich City, would get 7.1 million, and that of course would be on their way to relegation.
So Liverpool would take the biggest “hit” if something goes awry.
As it is, two games are slated for June 17. Here are the English Premier League betting odds, as they are posted at BetAnySports:
ARSENAL at MANCHESTER CITY
Manchester City -266
Manchester City -1.5 (-105)
Arsenal +1.5 (-110)
Under 3.5 Goals -119
Over 3.5 Goals +104
SHEFFIELD UNITED at ASTON VILLA
Sheffield Utd. +135
Aston Villa +222
Sheffield Utd. pick -146
Aston Villa pick +131
Under 2.5 Goals -121
Over 2.5 Goals +106
The EPL is not just a popular TV attraction in the United Kingdom; it has agreements all over the world; in fact, 107 million pounds comes from overseas. In the United States it is televised by NBC, generally through its NBC Sports Network.
And some teams would be jockeying for a better share of the television “pie.” At the moment, Liverpool leads with 82 points, while Manchester City has 57. The it’s Leicester City (53), Chelsea (48), Manchester United (45), Wolverhampton (43), Sheffield United (43), Tottenham (41), Arsenal (40) and Burnley (39) rounding out the top ten.
There may be some unsettled issues with other clubs as well. The Championship, which is set to play nine matches in 32 days to settle its season, has been complaining about a possible EPL vote to suspend relegation for a year. That’s one thing; there are also plenty of teams that are struggling quite a bit. One of those, Barnsley, is looking for something of a bailout package. They are one of the teams likely to be sent down, as the last-place team in the Championship (England’s second tier). There are seven other clubs that aren’t guaranteed a return engagement in the league as the season resumes.
Barnsley’s ownership, which includes Oakland A’s vice-president Billy Beane (yes, the “Moneyball” guy) has been rather vocal in objections about the restart. But they are also voicing concerns that if they are relegated to League One, they are going to have a difficult time simply surviving. And they believe it would be “unfair and unlawful” if such a thing happened without the season’s fixtures having been concluded.
So they are proposing that the three relegated teams in the Championship be given a “parachute payment” next year that would be equal to the per-club money the Championship teams get, which is 7.4 million pounds, in order to avoid “potential failure of their enterprise.”
So yes, the drama has only just begun.
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