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High-profile agent on financial impact of coronavirus and how it could affect player wages, transfer fees

Ahead of the restart of the football season across Europe, there is still much discussion about the financial impact that the coronavirus pandemic could have on the game.

After the lockdown came into force in March for many countries, it has led to a lack of football over the past two months which has resulted in a financial strain on clubs across the spectrum.

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Further, with games to still be played behind closed doors for the foreseeable future and with the need to recover financially from the ongoing loss of revenue that comes with that and other factors, it will likely be a difficult time for many clubs.

So, how will that impact player wages and transfer fees moving forward?

Agent Jonathan Barnett, who represents Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale among others, has shared his opinion on the matter and he doesn’t envisage that wages will drop, while he expects the market to recover eventually and for transfer fees to eventually increase back to the levels that they were at pre-coronavirus pandemic.

It remains to be seen how long that will take, but ultimately it won’t be welcomed by many after much talk of the market perhaps resetting itself, or at least this being an ideal opportunity for that to happen to avoid seeing eye-watering transfer fees in the future.

Wages

“I don’t see player wages dropping, that is for sure,” he told Radio 4. “What I do see is clubs have to maybe look at how the clubs are run a bit better. Fans come to see players play, they don’t come to see the chief executive play.

“That’s what puts money on the table so it’s not just a question of players taking less because it’s their short period of time to make money.”

Transfer fees

On clubs being able to splash out huge transfer fees moving forward, he added: “If they can’t, they don’t. Nobody’s going to be forcing them. Every club has to make that decision, at the end of the day they’ll offer a player whatever money they can afford and if it’s right for the player then it’s fine, if it’s not he’ll stay where he is or go somewhere else or whatever.

“I think in the short term but not in the long term [fees will be down]. They’ll come back. Market value will come back, you’ve just got to look at it sensibly and say this year I can’t afford to pay so I won’t do it this year.

“After the next television deal hopefully they’ll be in a better position. Or once the fans start coming back, their sponsorships go up, all these things come back they might be in a position again to do it.”

That will be the hope for Barnett and his fellow agents as ultimately that’s how they make their living, but it remains to be seen if he’s right in terms of things going back to the way they used to be eventually, and further, how long it might take for that to happen as clubs recover both on and off the pitch in the coming months.

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