The English Premier League faces an estimated £1 billion pound ($Dh4.66bn) loss in revenue due to the coronavirus crisis, says financial services firm Deloitte.
Suspended since mid-March due to the pandemic, the league has had three months of no action on the pitch that will weigh heavily on revenues for the 2019/2020 financial year.
The league is scheduled to restart on June 17 with games to be broadcast live in the UK by Sky Sports, BT Sport, BBC Sport and Amazon Prime.
Fans of its 20 clubs won’t be permitted to attend games because of health and safety concerns, as has been the case in Germany.
Around £500 million of the lost revenue will be the result of rebates to broadcasters, a reduction in ticket sales due to games being played behind closed doors and reduced commercial contracts, according to Deloitte. Another £500m will be deferred to the following financial year.
Dan Jones, of Deloitte, expects "significant revenue reduction and operating losses" in European football.
He said: “The success of each league’s return, and the strength of each one’s relationships with broadcasters and commercial partners, will have a potentially significant and lasting impact on the financial strength of clubs and leagues."
Manchester United said last month that the pandemic had already cost them £28m – but they expect the final figure to be far higher.
With revenue of £5.2bn in 2018/2019, the Premier League is by far Europe’s richest football competition.
It is in the process of deciding whether to approve a £300m pound takeover of Newcastle United, one of the country's best-supported teams, by a consortium being led by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.
Despite a projected rapid recovery in finances, the Covid-19 pandemic could force U.K. clubs to reassess cost controls and focus on long-term stability, according to Jones.
“The decisions taken now will determine if the 2019/20 season is seen in future as the end of a golden age or the start of a better, stronger new era,” he said.