"Nothing will be as before, after this terrible year", Aleksander Ceferin, president of UEFA (Union of European Football Associations), told the Italian daily La Repubblica. So the football industry is no exception to the rest of the world, at least if we take credit for this widely heard prophecy.
"I hope it will change us all, starting with football. " The wish is from coach Carlo Ancelotti. In this sector, as elsewhere, many assure that there will be a "Before" and one "After", predicting an upheaval of values and systems. We know the front, but what will be next?
The austerity that comes
For the time being, professional football is urgently managing the "Existential threat" made by Andrea Agnelli, President of Juventus. If one can only speculate on the resumption or abandonment of competitions in progress, the extent of the economic crisis at the end of the health crisis is beyond doubt.
Not only are the revenue linked to match days vanishing and the flows linked to transfers are threatened, but broadcasters are already cutting power: Canal + has formalized the non-payment of the last draft for the Ligue 1 season.
Several clubs have announced measures to lower player salaries – their main expense. The coming austerity is also preparing for a collapse of the transfer market. According to a document obtained by the New york times, FIFA is working on a bailout plan to avoid bankruptcies, including wages, contracts and transfer windows.
UEFA is considering softening its financial fair play, and FIFA is talking about the creation of a support fund supplemented by its immense reserves. Gianni Infantino, its president, would become descending: "Perhaps we can take the opportunity to reform football by taking a step back. "
No one has to take Gianni Infantino's word. Football will first pass a solidarity test. The authorities cannot ignore the fact that the small clubs are more threatened than the big teams, and that the measures taken by the latter are the responsibility of a dangerous rider alone.
However, precisely, the principle of solidarity has been undermined for three decades by the increase in wealth gaps in favor of an oligarchy, which has benefited from the deregulation of football and the concentration of resources. How not to take advantage of such a break to think about a release of this model?
Thus, it was not the bursting of a repeatedly announced "financial bubble" that would have overcome the insolent growth of the football industry. Simply, suffering from gigantism, unable to resist two or three months of shutdown, the whole building threatens to collapse.
Only mutual management, supported by strong sports powers, ensured by new regulations (themselves endorsed by the public authorities) appears capable of lastingly saving football, from the crisis as well as its excesses.
Salary cap, limitation of the number of foreigners, redistribution, budgetary constraints, supervision of transfers, etc., here is another football – more reasoned, better administered and less unequal – becoming not only possible, but also desirable.
Reform or rupture
A very opposite scenario has not been ruled out, that of the "shock strategy": taking advantage of the gravity of the situation and the dumbfounding it causes, the wealthiest clubs could complete the secession they are pursuing since a long time.
The conditions lend themselves to such a coup and give back substance to the creation of a private European league. To save their skin, ensure their supremacy and ward off the specter of a sharing revolution, members of the elite will be inclined to take the plunge.
In recent days, trying to seize exceptional powers within the Professional Football League, in a limited "steering committee", certain French clubs have illustrated this kind of temptation.
Sports and political authorities have a choice. A recovery and reform program involving new rules and – finally! – greater fairness before competitions. Or yet another resignation which would relaunch only the flight forward. An emergency plan will not be enough: you need a New Deal for football.
Aleksander Ceferin said that there is "No room for selfishness". He only spoke of the players' acceptance of the lower wages. But this motion should be generalized and made permanent.