The chief executive of Spanish media group and sports marketing agency Mediapro has said Covid-19 will put a welcome rein on transfer spending by European football clubs.
Jaume Roures told news agency Agence France-Presse: “The days of football clubs paying hundreds of millions of euros for players are over. Because clubs will run out of money and because banks will not lend money to clubs with the same ease as before.
“All that will change and I think it’s very positive. I never agreed with clubs paying 140, 160 million euros for a football player. It will be very positive for society in general and for the clubs’ finances in particular.”
Mediapro is one of the leading players globally in football media production and rights distribution. It produces all television coverage for Spain’s LaLiga and distributes the league’s international rights, as well as distributing rights for a host of other properties around the world. It is in the process of launching sports pay-television channels in France, having acquired domestic rights to Ligue 1 football, and is also in talks with the Italian Serie A about launching a channel in its home market. It has since 2018 been majority owned by Chinese company Orient Hontai Capital.
Roures is an outspoken figure, with a colourful background in political activism and film-making, as well as in the television and sports industries.
He told the AFP it was “now impossible” that Spanish club Barcelona would buy back Brazilian player Neymar from Paris St-Germain. “Barcelona simply does not have the economic strength,” he said.
Referring to the value of football media rights, he told the AFP, “The amounts spent on rights, in general, had reached the maximum already,” and added it was “obvious” that the market would be affected by Covid-19.
But Roures struck some positive notes about football’s ability to continue amid Covid-19 and its value as a television product. “The crisis is not going to keep people away from watching football,” he said. He expects leagues to played behind closed doors, but noted that this meant playing schedules could be changed to suit television audiences:
“We usually play on weekends because it’s when people don’t work and can go to the stadiums but now, this is not the case. So we can adapt the schedules.
“And then television audiences will be better because a very large part of the population will be at home. Even at the end of this, football will continue to be people’s favourite sport.”