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Premier League clubs urged to ‘reinvent’ relationship with fans

Premier League clubs have been urged to come up with new ways to engage with fans in order to negate the impact of playing games in empty stadiums.

England’s top flight resumed after a two-month break on Wednesday, with Aston Villa hosting Sheffield United behind closed doors.

It was a similar story later the same evening as reigning champions Manchester City welcomed Arsenal to the Etihad Stadium.

Chelsea will get their first taste of the new set-up when they visit Villa Park on Sunday, before welcoming City to Stamford Bridge the following Thursday.

With recent research by Betway Online showing that Chelsea had an average attendance of 40,437 last season, it will be a surreal experience to stage such a big game without any supporters watching.

There is also the financial impact to consider, with Blues fans generating £67 million of matchday revenue for the club last season.

That represents 15 percent of Chelsea’s turnover, a figure that football finance expert, Kieran Maguire, says will somehow have to be replaced.

“They will be trying to claw that back in some shape or form,” he said. “I think football might have to reinvent its relationship with fans in terms of its ability to offer an experience.

“Those clubs with good lines of communication to their fans will be successful, they will work hard to engage with them. The industry is big, but it’s got to innovate.”

The financial conundrum created by playing games behind closed doors is an issue that will inevitably impact every Premier League club.

Betway’s study showed that £677m was generated in matchday income by top flight clubs in 2018/19 – 13 percent of their collective turnover.

Chelsea’s turnover is the fifth highest in the Premier League and taking a £67m hit would undoubtedly create major problems for them.

By comparison, just £5m of Bournemouth’s £131m turnover comes from matchday revenue, but Maguire insists that the impact will be felt by clubs regardless of the amounts involved.

“£5m is still £5m – over the course of a season for Bournemouth, the money from a matchday will pay for the wages of two players.

“You can’t keep on writing a cheque for £5m a month, even if you have got a decent amount of money in the bank to begin with.

“But Bournemouth lost £27m last season, so you add the loss of matchday income to that and it can only make the situation worse.”



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June 2020
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