The “dilemma” of indoor sports

Kalidiatou Niakaté, from Brest Bretagne Handball, in Odense (Denmark), on October 25.  The Women's Handball League (LFH) has confirmed the principle of playing the three days of the championship before the November break, which will precede the European Championships.

Is it better to continue the season behind closed doors, that is to say without spectators, cocktails and prestigious reception in the boxes, and therefore without recipes? Or postpone the matches to an unknown date, while waiting for the end of the reconfinement, scheduled to last at least until Sunday 1er December?

Between economic and sporting considerations, the dilemma arises for professional basketball, handball and volleyball clubs. Three sports whose cash flow depends on the general attendance in theaters rather than television rights, non-existent or almost compared to those of football or rugby.

Unlike the National Basketball League, those of volleyball and handball have decided to maintain their matches on Saturday 31 October and Sunday 1er November. At least, those still planned: cases of Covid-19 contamination had already forced some clubs to cancel their meetings.

Each for its part, the basketball, volleyball and handball leagues have scheduled internal meetings during the week of Monday, November 2, to consider whether or not to maintain the matches scheduled for the entire month.

If the concerns are common, the result may differ according to the sports, according to the interlocutors interviewed by The world.

Freeze matches and “lose less money”, play behind closed doors and “lose more”

For the Women’s Handball League (LFH), it is understood: its management committee has already confirmed the principle of playing the three days of the championship before the November break, which will precede the European Championships. A question of ” common sense “, according to the president of the LFH, Nodjialem Myaro. You have to tighten your belt. The presidents have agreed to play the game. ” The implication: accepting to lose money.

“The economic sacrifice is enormous but we have chosen to favor the sporting side”, confirms Thierry Weizman

The economic sacrifice is enormous but we have chosen to focus on the sporting side ”, confirms Thierry Weizman, president of Metz Handball, multiple champion of France. And to add, cautiously: “All this while hoping that the championship can resume normally in January …” The Lorraine club normally operates at the Arènes, an enclosure of around 4,500 seats. Organization cost on average : “Around 10,000 euros. “ Thierry Weizman now plans to withdraw to an annex room, which would lower this cost “To 2,000 euros. ” But the losses of a closed session are mainly located elsewhere: usually, the club shoots about “15,000 to 20,000 euros” per game through box office and “hospitality” revenues, as the box-office services are called.

Unlike their female counterparts, the handball players of the French championship still have seven games to play before their long winter break. Patrice Canayer, general manager of Montpellier Handball, recognizes ” the dilemma “ for club presidents. Either freeze the matches and “Lose less money”, either play in camera and “Lose more”.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Denis Masseglia, President of the CNOSF: “Sport is not one of the nation’s priorities”

Until the decision of the reconfinement, the Hérault club had to be satisfied with playing in front of 1000 spectators maximum in its room: this partial gauge already represented a loss “From 150,000 to 200,000 euros compared to the estimated budget”, according to Patrice Canayer’s calculations. Who fears a loss of“Around 80,000 euros more per match” for each possible game behind closed doors.

“We risk having half of the clubs which will file for bankruptcy by the end of January”

At the basketball level, the forecasts also look pessimistic. At a general meeting on Friday, October 30, the National League (LNB) delivered its forecasts: “When a first division club receives behind closed doors, it loses between 100,000 and 180,000 euros per game”, declared the president of the LNB, Alain Béral, during a videoconference.

The manager considers the situation to be tenable for a very short time: “Not beyond mid-December. ” Otherwise, alarmist prognosis: “We risk having half of the clubs that will file for bankruptcy by the end of January. “

Read also “The health situation calls into question the forms of passion for football”

Despite these estimates, some say they are more in favor of a freeze of games in November, rather than playing in front of empty rooms. “You might as well keep your back round to get off to a better start”, argues Didier Gadou, executive director of Elan Béarnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez. “The basketball season resumed in September, and we only played four games three were postponed due to the Covid , there are thirty left, why rush? “

The former basketball player prefers to wait for the public to return to his room for a simple reason: “In our budgets, there are three important lines of accounts: communities, partners and subscribers. So as long as these people pay benefits, we have to be able to provide them. “ This season, on the other hand, the Pro A clubs have to manage without any financial compensation from the television channels which broadcast the matches, LTeam and Sport in France.

Partners in search of visibility

In the case of volleyball, where budgets are smaller, concerns are even greater. In the case of the Women’s League A, some leaders want games to be postponed rather than playing behind closed doors. “We are producers of shows and creators of emotions, the only problem is that we cannot produce a show without having revenue behind”, explains Magali Magail, who holds the position of general manager of ASPTT Mulhouse.

In practice, continuing matches behind closed doors could pose other logistical challenges. In theory, Mulhouse should travel on Tuesday to play a match in Albi. But “The hotel has already called us [jeudi] to tell us that we could not eat there… ”

Some companies pay to appear on the players’ shirts, to be displayed around the field, or for announcer advertisements

President of Volley-Ball Nantes, Monique Bernard expects a withdrawal from the partners in the event of a closed session. Some companies pay to appear on the players’ shirts, to be displayed around the field, or for announcer advertisements. “Our partners have signed agreements with us to gain visibility”, recalls the leader. However, without an indoor audience …

The situation is all the more worrying as the support of private investors has already declined this season, compared to the previous one, due to the economic crisis due to Covid-19: on a budget of 1.3 million euros, VB Nantes is counting on 268,000 euros in resources drawn from its partners, against 362,000 a year ago. This, even as the club is playing in the Champions League.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Health crisis: for football fans, it’s a big void

Same concern for men’s volleyball, including for its flagship club, which depends more on private partners than on public subsidies. “The sponsors may ask us for a refund on a pro rata basis for the matches”, anticipates Paul Foussard, deputy general manager of Tours Volley-Ball. “Now we take the crank back in the face. “ As in many theaters across the country.

Read also The government claims to want “to do everything to ensure that professional sport continues”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here