Coronavirus, sports and the financial cost


Many football clubs cultivate a myth that is intended to demonstrate the bond between the fans and their club. The story goes like this, with regional differences: If we just turn on the floodlights at home, a few thousand spectators will come to see what’s new.

That doesn’t work in the current days of coronavirus fear, of course. Or at least it shouldn’t. Because even if a game like this week’s Rheinderby between Borussia Mönchengladbach and Cologne takes place as a so-called ghost game in front of empty stands, hundreds of fans gather in front of the stadium. Disease prevention looks difficult.

On March 13, German football reacted to the danger of infection by the coronavirus. At the suggestion of the German Football League (DFL), games in the first and second Bundesliga in Germany are to be completely suspended until at least April 2. It is not yet possible to estimate how expensive this measure will ultimately be for the sport — but it will certainly not be cheap.

No spectators until April

Professor Christoph Breuer from the Institute for Sports Economics and Sports Management at the Sports University in Cologne does not want to comment on how sensible it is to compete under exclusion of the fans, i.e. to organize so-called ghost games or to cancel all games at once: “Only a medical doctor can answer this question.”

In any case, empty stadiums would have far-reaching consequences, Breuer tells DW: “Audience income is a central source of income for professional sports. These are now breaking away.” Furthermore, according to Breuer, “the other sources of income, sponsoring and media revenues, are also at risk because the contractually agreed service cannot be provided”.