Cords’ Commercial World of Sport - Part 2.

WITH no crowds in stadiums this summer, I’ve been drawn to the way each arena has been dressed.

Watching Manchester United beat Copenhagen on Monday night the ‘Finals 2020 Germany’ branding caught my eye. In the past, there was a high probability that this quarter-final, first leg of the Europa League would have been a cagey drawn out non-affair.

The difference was that this wasn’t a first leg, it was a one-off cup tie that went to extra-time and could have ended in penalties thanks to a heroic display by Copenhagen’s Karl-Johan Johnsson.

The other difference, of course, was that the game not played in either England or Denmark but Germany and that’s what got me thinking.

The branding is ready to be adapted, potentially, for next year. Could it be ‘Finals 2021 France’ and what about the year after being ‘Finals 2022 England’. We are in the middle of an unprecedented festival of club football with matches every night as the Europa League is played to a conclusion in Germany and the Champions League in Portugal. The format is fantastic with quarters, semis and finals all played within the space of two weeks.

Tonight it is Barcelona v Bayern, tomorrow Manchester City against Lyon, then United are back in action again on Sunday against Sevilla.

Each tournament has taken only a couple of months to organise – helped by not having to worry about the logistics of hosting supporters – but has, am sure, given UEFA food for thought. Could this now be the way to end its premier club competitions?

Commercially, it has a big appeal with none of the games clashing allowing maximum exposure for all the sponsors. Once spectators return hosting in one country would also allow for increased local brand activations not to mention the extra hospitality.

Supporters might not be happy about losing a home leg in the quarter and semi-finals but next season already looks to be one of the most crowded in history with a third of the Premier League season being played over December and January and FA Cup replays scrapped for the first time. Having two less matches to pay for on your season ticket might be a good thing.

Next year Euro 2020 is being played from June 11 to July 11 so there can’t be a re-run of the current club festival and the traditional format will return as life, hopefully, gets back to normal. The reality is though that we are far from normal. Fans will be allowed back in to watch the final of the World Snooker Championships this weekend and the hope is to have crowds back at football in October but, for those lucky enough to get in, it won’t be the experience we are used to.

For now, we might just have to relish this nightly feast of games as one of the few positives to come out of the pandemic.


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