How Is the Coronavirus Affecting La Liga?

The current Covid19 pandemic has decimated sporting events across the globe, with major leagues in pretty much every sport being side-lined for the foreseeable future. La Liga has not managed to escape the cancellations either, with the remainder of the season now hanging in the balance, along with all the other top-flight football leagues across Europe. The league authorities have said they will now only continue with the season once the Spanish government has said it is safe to do so, and with Spain being particularly hard hit by the spread of Covid19, that particular date may be hard to pin down.  

But what does this all mean for La Liga? How exactly will the rest of the season pan out? Will we ever get to witness the conclusion of this league? Will the next season be affected? The unfortunate answer to all these questions is, right now, that we simply don’t know. The RFEF have reiterated that they obviously want to finish the league at some point, but issues start to arise when you start to look at the dates in which the new season is set to start, and when this one will now end. While the whole situation is hugely dismaying for the fans, it is also worth considering how this will impact other areas of the game, such as how player bonuses will be dished out. For example, Lionel Messi is currently the leading goal scorer, and if he has a bonus in his contract for finishing as such, what are the legalities of a void season? And, how teams like Real Betis, who changed their shirt sponsor to an online broker back in August, will deal with the lack of matches being televised that might be written into contracts regarding their advertising deals. When it comes to delayed or even cancelled seasons, there is far more at stake than simply results.

Aug 10, 2019; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Napoli player Gianiuca Gaetano (70) during a United States La Liga-Serie A Cup Tour soccer match at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

A void league would mean financial penalties 

 For the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid, the league is currently hanging in the balance (just two points separate the two teams), but equally concerning is what will happen at the other end of the table, where the likes of Mallorca, Leganes, and Espanyol are facing the drop, but could conceivably avoid it if results went their way at the tail end of the season. Would it be fair to call the league positions that they currently occupy their final ones? Most football fans and clubs would probably think not. When you consider the financial penalties associated with dropping out of the topflight, it seems downright immoral to condemn a team that hasn’t been officially relegated. But on the other hand, if you suspend relegation and promotion for a season, teams in the lower leagues will pay the penalty for not moving up the divisions, and in turn, be financially punished themselves. It seems whatever decision is made, someone will lose out unless the current season plays out, and the next one starts when expected. 

But what about the players themselves? How will the quarantine affect them personally? Some may look at the time out as a welcome break for players that may be tiring towards the tail-end of the season, and while this could be a legitimate bonus for players that are dipping in form, or perhaps returning from injury, there are also going to be a fair few players who were hitting their stride, and now faced with a break in play, will not be able to continue that trend when the time comes. Training in home gyms, and taking free kicks against children in the back yard is all well and good, but nothing can replace actual training and the facilities that come with it. 

What are the options?

Aug 10, 2019; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Barcelona defender Jordi Alba (18) and Napoli forward Simone Verdi (9) during a United States La Liga-Serie A Cup Tour soccer match at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

So how exactly can the league possibly finish? Well, there are two main options, but these options do indeed rely on the Covid19 pandemic coming to an end relatively quickly. If (and this is a big ‘if’) the pandemic is controlled, and pushed into a receding state soon, there is a chance that the league can be finished as intended, albeit later than usual. The other option is that games get played behind closed doors (something that has already happened with some games), which would be a shame for the fans, but would at least provide a fair final standing within the league table. There is, of course a third option that some experts are touting that involves allowing this season to continue once the pandemic is under control, but if that runs over into the start of next season, then the subsequent season is cancelled. A situation that is almost unthinkable for many football fans, not to mention players, clubs, and sponsors alike. Whatever happens, rest assured top-flight football will return, but at this point, all we can hope for is that the pandemic is dealt with swiftly, La Liga gets to finish properly, and everyone ends up in the position they deserve. 

About Marcelo Villa

Marcelo is an associate editor at The Sports Daily, and has covered the San Diego Chargers for Bleacher Report. He also writes for Sportsdirect Inc.