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Home Insights & Advice Sport’s recovery: When will the industry get back underway?

Sport’s recovery: When will the industry get back underway?

by John Saunders

The current coronavirus crisis has affected many of our pastimes. The curtains have been drawn on theatre performances, the mic has been dropped on gigs and for British sport there is a real sense it could be chances forever.

Virtually all sport has been put on hold and questions have been continuing to asked as to how the calendar could shape up over the next few months.

The Premier League has been keen to get back to playing, and is determined to finish the season, with a June 8 resume date hopeful.

For clubs in the Football League there’s an estimated £200million hole, with chairman of the Football League, Rick Parry claiming it would be “difficult to answer” how many may go out of business.

For cricket it’s a similar story. The ECB put a lot of time, money and effort into The Hundred, a tournament which would build upon the success of last year’s World Cup. That is now postponed until 2021 at an estimated loss of £380million.

Hope is on the horizon though. While the Belarusian Premier League has thrilled some fans, a bigger hope for the return of sport comes from Germany. The government in the country has given the go-ahead for the Bundesliga resuming, kicking off on May 16. How well the integration of the league back into society is could be telling in how the UK moves forward with sport.

Of course, it isn’t just sport itself that has been affected by its lack of. It has had a huge knock on effect, not just for people who see it as an escape, but also for the hospitality sector and travel sector, of which even a return won’t help recover, with most sporting action likely to take place behind closed doors for the foreseeable future.

One industry which will be looking to bounce back however is the gambling industry. The return of international events such as UFC and the Bundesliga has already helped their case, while many are simply looking to what sports you can bet on today in order to find live sport to enjoy and place their bets on.

A return of sport on home soil would see the industry and the thousands employed by it begin to get back on track. The surge in players betting on the South Korean league in recent days and weeks has proven that, while there have been many examples of how fans have started to invest time and money into the Belarusian league.

The live streaming element of bookmakers has been integral for this, and will continue to be so in the coming weeks as fans look to enjoy live sport and place bets. Paddy Power have been streaming Belarusian football, while it’s also been noted that the BBC have been live streaming the K League, which has seen a small spike in bets placed.

It’s undoubted that the return of sport, and in particular football where money plays such a huge part, will be different than what it once was.

Darts has already returned via the PDC Home Tour and has perhaps shown how some more individual sports could play out. Golf will follow a similar route, with players teeing off alone and few crew members not allowed in player areas when the PGA Tour resumes.

For team sports in Britain, there’s learning to be done, and it’s likely a large part of that will be done over the next few weeks before a potential behind-closed-doors return in a minimum one month’s time.

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