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United to be biggest losers in game's €1bn shortfall

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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Photo: PA

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Photo: PA

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Photo: PA

Football clubs in the Premier League and Championship are facing a combined hole in their accounts of more than £1 billion (€1.1bn) if crowds do not return before the end of the season.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson announced on Tuesday that plans for the possible return of sports fans from October 1 had been shelved as part of new measures to stem the rising spread of Covid-19.

Numerous clubs from League One down through the non-league and semi-professional game are not financially viable without fans but, even allowing for their broadcast income, the financial impact on clubs in the top two tiers is still also considerable.

Although Manchester United face the biggest projected lost income, of £139.39m (€152.1m), the club that is proportionately most impacted is Arsenal.

This is because they derive significantly less income than United from commercial revenue streams but would still have expected to make £122.27m (€133.4m) from fans on matchdays.

According to Arsenal's most recent accounts for 2018-'19, that matchday section of income amounted to almost a quarter of all revenue.

Arsenal's £122.27m projected loss is around £40m (€44m) more than Chelsea and almost £50m (€55m)more than Manchester City. Even Liverpool and Tottenham, with their respectively upgraded homes, would be forecast to lose between £18m (€19.6m) and £16m (€17.5m) less.

The overall projected loss across the Premier League is put at £911.66m (€994.72m).

In the Championship, Sheffield Wednesday, whose Hillsborough ground has a capacity of almost 40,000, are projected to be hardest hit and can expect lost income of almost £23m (€25.1m).

Taken together, the Championship clubs will be around £180m (€196.4m) short in matchday income.

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The English Football League has so far estimated its bailout needs across the Championship, League One and League Two at £200m (€218m) for a season without fans.

The projections have been made by financial analysts Vysyble, who calculated expected revenues in the 2019-'20 and 2020-'21 seasons according to the published 2018-'19 balance sheets.

They then factored in the number of games already played by each club prior to lockdown during the 2019-'20 season, average attendances and how clubs were progressing so far this season in cup competitions.

Meanwhile, Manchester United and Porto are still haggling over a fee for Alex Telles but the Brazil left-back has signalled his determination to move to Old Trafford.

Telles has a €40 million (£36.6m) release clause in his contract but, since the 27-year-old will be free to talk to foreign suitors from January when he will have just six months left on his contract, United are trying to drive the price down.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is desperate to bolster his squad before the close of the transfer window on Monday week, with Netherlands midfielder Donny van de Beek, a £34.8m signing from Ajax, his only recruit so far.

© Daily Telegraph, London


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