Yesterday marked one year since the first national lockdown was announced.
The measures imposed reached even the highest level of sport, with competitions such as the Premier League having to halt for three months as a result of the first wave of Covid-19 infections.
It resulted in elite tournaments, including Euro 2020 and the Tokyo Olympics, having to be pushed back to this year.
With postponements and cancellations of sporting events, as well as the substantial decrease in revenue due to the lack of supporters able to attend matches, the pandemic has left many sport clubs struggling to survive over the past year.
Fast-forward 12 months and, thankfully, the outlook looks significantly more positive. The vaccine rollout is progressing well, with nearly 30 million people having received their first dose.
The success of the vaccine rollout, coupled with the steady decline of cases, hospital admissions and deaths, means that we now have a roadmap towards easing lockdown restrictions. As such, we also have an idea of when fans will be able to return to sports matches, with the final round of Premier League fixtures, as well as the rearranged Euro 2020 fixtures that are due to be hosted at Wembley, potentially able to host as many as 10,000 spectators.
The pandemic has forced most sport organisations to adapt in order to survive, and this is likely to have a lasting impact on the sport industry as a whole. Sport clubs have had to consider alternative revenue streams, knowing they can’t be solely dependent on gate receipts.
The knock-on effect for clubs has already been seen. The recent January transfer window was the quietest from Premier League clubs for nine years, with the total money spent on player transfers amounting to less than the fee Liverpool paid to Southampton for Virgil van Dijk three years ago.
How long this reversal, of what previously were ever-inflating transfer fees year on year, will last, remains to be seen (see Sam Wright’s blog on whether money is ruining sport). The need for sports clubs to determine alternative sources of revenue, though, cannot be denied.