Biennial World Cup could cost UEFA a fortune

The revenue of European national football associations could fall by 2.5 to 3 billion euros over a four-year cycle.

A while ago an unpopular concept was proposed by FIFA to host a biennial World Cup, which will be detrimental to association revenues. A report commissioned by the leagues states that the major domestic football leagues and UEFA could lose around 8 billion euros ($9 billion) per season in lost TV rights, matchday and commercial agreements.

If FIFA goes ahead with the plans for a biennial World Cup beginning in 2026, the revenue of European national football associations could fall by 2.5 to 3 billion euros ($2.8-3.4 billion) over a four-year cycle. The figure came from an independent study conducted by consultants Oliver & Ohlbaum on the impact of a biennial World Cup and a changed international match calendar. Associations have also stated that a loss of revenue from media rights for European qualifiers and the Nations League, as well as sponsorships and ticket sales, is possible as a result of this. It will also decrease promoters’ interest in domestic football and put a strain on players, resulting in poor performance.

Arsene Wenger, former Arsenal manager and FIFA’s head of global development, proposed the idea. He also suggested a new calendar that would reduce the number of international breaks for qualifiers while allowing for one or two longer breaks to shorten the qualification process.

He projected that the continental championships such as the Euros and Copa America could fill in the gaps while the World Cup could be conducted every alternate year. He also advocates for mandatory rest periods to prevent player burnout.

However, the idea was rejected and opposed by the UEFA, which runs the hugely popular and lucrative Champions League, as well as national leagues such as Italy’s Serie A, Spain’s La Liga, and England’s Premier League, all of which have a massive global following.

Major League Soccer, Mexico, Japan, and South African leagues, as well as the European big five, have all stated that even the least disruptive options would cost them billions of dollars per year, with TV rights being the most expensive. Continental club competitions like the Champions League can have a loss of up to 5 billion euros per season in audiovisual deals alone – more than a third of what the leagues currently make in TV rights.

Due to a decrease in the number of matches, the leagues would lose more than one billion euros per year in visual rights, according to a study. Due to a shortened calendar, the competitions would also miss out on 1.75 billion euros and another 901 million euros due to schedule changes, with weekend games being moved to midweek.

Reports also suggest that the commercial losses would mount up to 2.16 billion euros per season, a drop of about 25%, and the negative impact on match day revenues would cost the clubs 1.2 billion euros, a drop of about 25%.

Top leagues would be forced to reduce to 18 teams to finish their seasons in early May by FIFA’s plans.

According to Mr Ashish Negi, the Head of Business Operations of Khel Now“For FIFA and its MA- It is a brilliant option which means they will be able to generate more revenues and more grants for developing MAs. For Fans in developing countries like India- As we have seen in the survey done by FIFA that 85% of Indian men’s were in favour of it whereas 81.7% of Indian Women are in favour of it but these people who voted are far away from the reality, people thinking world cup every two years means India will get more chance to qualify but sadly currently India and AIFF are not able to prepare properly for the qualifiers of the world cup in 4 years cycle and there is no proof of the pudding that they will ever be ready for qualifiers every two years considering their unprofessional approach towards the game in the last 20 years. 

For Media organizations like Khel Now: It Will be great that we will have a world cup to cover and engage every two years. Personally, I am not in favour of it as I feel it will lose its charm of it. I know fans from various countries who save for 4 years so that they can watch the world cup, fans prepare for it and excitement goes very high. I am not sure we will have the same kind of excitement if the world cup is very two years. We might see top players skipping it as they will feel that they will get another chance in 2 years as we see in various other sports like shooting, archery etc.”

When asked about the reported loss that the UEFA or Premier League will have to face, Mr Negi stated, “I think there is already a rift between UEFA and FIFA on various issues and this decision by FIFA will again bring more negativity between both organizations. I was told by some top officials from both ORG that FIFA wants to make sure they get the biggest pie from football not UEFA through UCL or Premier league. This is also shown in the FIFA survey as they got the least votes in favour from Europe as fans value club football at the highest level.”

Mr Negi also mentioned the players and fans’ mindset and approach towards club and country’s games, “We are going to see this battle between all these organizations and let’s see who wins it. Match fatigue is not just for the football players but for the fans also. Fans wait for the world cup every 4 years, with so many quality games here and there we will see fans picking and choosing the game. We are seeing a battle with South American FA and premier league clubs already due to covid guidelines. This will go to the next level if these changes are implemented.”

FIFA received $5.37 billion in revenue from the 2018 World Cup. The UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa LeagueUEFA Europa Conference League, and the UEFA Super Cup are expected to generate 3.5 billion euros in gross revenue.

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