HOW THE PANDEMIC HAS HIT DUTCH SOCCER

HOW THE PANDEMIC HAS HIT DUTCH SOCCER

In April 2021, the Dutch government announced a series of pilot events in numerous sectors to determine what could be safely reopened, with the requirement to all visitors to test negative in a coronavirus test and book their place in advance. However, some weeks after the tests, and with further results, the OMT (Outbreak Management Team), which advises the Dutch government, called it “too risky” and experts have called for some changes in the organization of these events, as reported by the ANP.

“I used to have a season ticket to go to the stadium, just that feeling of going, having a beer with your friends and then being nervous about the game… just pure live. Hopefully, we will come back soon, at least for the next season in September” says Jeffrey De Vos, a great supporter of Dutch football. He is s just one of thousands of voices of soccer fans calling for a return to the stadiums after a year closed due to the pandemic. But they are not the only ones. Apart from fans, there are other sectors that have been indirectly affected and are calling for the reopening of football. Football revenues in Dutch League, the Eredivisie, according to a report by the Han University of Applied Sciences, comes:

Therefore, television broadcasters, such as FOX SPORTS TV for example, which has a long-term agreement with the clubs need a return on their investment through advertising and the reopening of the stadiums. Also, some adjacent businesses, such as sports shops, bars and restaurants near the stadium and match day revenues, which have seen their source of income reduced or closed.

In addition, we cannot forget the consequences that the covid-19 pandemic has had on the clubs themselves, and we can understand that the effects of the restrictions are clearly visible, with economic consequences of great impact. To understand it a little bit better, if we for example focus on the main club in the Eredivisie, the AFC Ajax, due to the pandemic situation, Transfermarket estimated that it has gone from being worth €486 million to €348 million, which is a brutal drop of 28% of its economic value.

These negative economic effects translate into: a drop in revenue, especially in terms of ticket sales, membership subscriptions and the sale of catering in the stadiums, the transfer freeze and player signings are down and the reduction of salaries. In that sense, is noteworthy in this global pandemic situation, how the Netherlands has reached a historic agreement, with a package of emergency measures for professional football to counteract the negative consequences of the COVID pandemic. This has put the Netherlands in a unique position in Europe by making the first collective agreement on wage reductions in football, estimated at approximately 35 million euros.

Another of the effects of COVID-19 on Dutch soccer are that although the government is helping clubs financially, they are having to sell players such as Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana who is looking to F.C Barcelona for example or David Neres, one of their best players who is receiving a lot of offers from some of the big European clubs. “There’s no other option, this league is too small, and the money in the Eredivise is in the value of its players” explains Pim Mark, a reporter from ESPN.

However, despite all the bad news that this year of pandemic has left, there is a beautiful story to tell and it happened this past May. Many of the clubs offered their fans a refund for their season ticket and the response was surprising: most simply said there was no need of the money back. Since Ajax fans have not been able to cheer their team on the stadium the last season, the club has decided to return the favor sharing their 35th league title with them in the most literal way possible: they have melted down their trophy and turned it into 42,000 silver stars to give to the subscribing fans at the Johan Cruyff Arena. A lifelong memory that has left its mark on many fans: “Nobody has done it before, so Ithink that is very beautifull to see the great gesture they have with their supporters. I think that is the best experience that a  fan could have” concludes Jeffrey De Vos.

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