Covid-19 Set To Halve 2020 Sports Calendar – Analysis From Two Circles

Only 53% of the sports events originally scheduled for 2020 are likely to take place this calendar year according to projections by data-driven sports marketing Two Circles.

Two Circles works with over 300 of the world’s leading sports properties and through its global Sports Attention Index, tracks the number of sports events taking place globally. 

Originally, 49,803 major sports events were scheduled for 2020, however global social-distancing measures introduced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic have led to a large proportion of sports events being postponed or cancelled. In March, only 1,870 of the originally-scheduled 5,584 events (33%) took place.

As of April 20, Two Circles models – which update daily based on changes in the rate of infections and confirmed scheduling alterations – show that 26,424 events are due to be held by calendar-end. This is 53% of the events anticipated pre-Covid-19.

As a result of the interruption to live sport, as of April 20, Two Circles estimates that the global sports industry will generate $73.7bn in revenue in 2020 – $61.6bn less than the $135.3bn projected before the Covid-19 outbreak. In 2019, the global sports industry generated $129bn in revenue and it had been anticipated the industry would grow by 4.9% year-on-year before Covid-19 struck.

Gareth Balch, Two Circles CEO, said: “Sports properties are keen to return as soon as possible as the longer the sports calendar is on hiatus, the worse the financial impact will be. However, sport should – and will – only return when it is deemed safe to do so, and with the support of all relevant government and medical authorities. Even hosting sport without crowds poses a complex challenge.”

Properties such as German football’s Bundesliga plan to recommence from May, albeit with only 240 people - including players, coaching and medical staff, match officials and production staff – involved per game. Sports in countries where Covid-19 infections appear to have peaked, such as South Korea and New Zealand, are also eyeing behind-closed-doors returns.

As most leagues will have to adjust both their current and future fixture schedule, pushing events back or reducing the number of events as a result, according to Two Circles’ modelling a staggered return of live sport in 2020 will see a spike of events in September (5,467). 

And Balch is confident that once live sport safely returns to the calendar, the sports industry will experience sustained growth. 

“Compared to most other industries, in recent times of economic adversity sport has proven to be recession-resilient. Whilst live sport is halted, every corner of the sports industry will continue to feel this significant financial pain, but we are certain that it returns, whether that’s behind-closed-doors or with full houses, sport’s economy will thrive once again,” he added.

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