Time for austerity | Inquirer Sports

Time for austerity

Pro league feeling the financial pinch caused by the health crisis and is looking to cut down on costs while trying to find new revenue streams
By: - Sports Editor / @ftjochoaINQ
/ 04:04 AM May 04, 2020

Willie Marcial: Hopeful —SHERWIN VARDELEON

The Philippine Basketball Association is looking to implement austerity measures while pursuing alternative revenue streams as it continues to absorb heavy financial losses due to the new coronavirus di­sease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“I have set a meeting with our management committee so we can discuss, among others, ways to save money,” commissioner Willie Marcial told the Inquirer on Saturday night. The PBA has successfully managed to pay its game-day staffers despite the absence of playdates, using residue income from last season as a stop-gap measure.


The league had played just one game in its milestone 45th season this year when Luzon was placed in a highly restrictive quarantine in an effort to curb the growth of the infection. Since its shutdown, the PBA has been leaking cash mostly from the loss of its share in the television and gate revenues.


$5.5 billion in US pro sports

The financial blow is something shared by pro leagues all around the world.

In the United States, a $100-billion sports landscape is expected to burn $12 billion in revenue, an amount that was even described as conservative, according to a report by ESPN and the Agence France-Presse (AFP). Patrick Rishe, sports business program director at Washington University in St. Louis, detailed the losses, breaking down the estimates to $5.5 billion for US pro sports, $3.9 billion for college sports and $2.4 billion for youth sport tourism.

Eight figures a month

According to AFP, those numbers assume Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer can finish half of their scheduled seasons with spectators while “the NBA and the National Hockey League cancel the unfinished part of their regular seasons and stage playoff games without spectators.” If those conditions aren’t met, and if the National Football Season is wiped out, the total losses could more than double.

No figures were made available as to how much the PBA is bleeding for every day that passes without games, but it is safe to assume it could run into eight figures a month.

Marcial said the league was also exploring alternative revenue streams, looking to online and gaming platforms as potential sources.


Already, the PBA has started hosting instructional videos featuring PBA stars.

“We’re also planning a partnership with Cignal for basketball video games that we can stream live,” Marcial added.

The measures will be undertaken in at least the next two to three months as the league officially extended its hibernation to August. By then, the league will decide how it will proceed in light of the pandemic, especially with a cancellation of the 45th season already a viable option.

“I can say this honestly: I am holding on to every bit of hope that we can save the season by September,” Marcial said. “I am not willing to discount that yet. That’s why I asked for the board to give us until August to make any decision about the season.”

The board convened on Saturday night to discuss several issues and reach a decision on some of them, including a moratorium on any transactions starting Saturday. No trades or free agent acquisitions will be allowed until after the quarantine is lifted.

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Also, players with expiring contracts have to re-sign with their clubs within five days after the first day that practice is officially allowed. —With a report from Cedelf P. Tupas INQ

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TAGS: COVID-19, PBA, Philippine Basketball Association

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