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Cross-border leagues seen as idea


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GENEVA (AP) With soccer clubs losing revenue during the pandemic, one industry leader said Wednesday the idea of creating multi-nation leagues will be revived.

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Many clubs risk bankruptcy because of the short-term prospect of playing games in empty stadiums coupled with the long-term struggle to retain and find sponsors.

Cross-border leagues will need to be looked at again in a wider debate of soccer economics, according of Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, general secretary of the global playersâ?? union network FIFPRO.

â??It might not be sustainable to run so many clubs,â?? Baer-Hoffmann told reporters in a conference call.

Until a vaccine for COVID-19 is available, clubs face being denied match-day revenue that is key in countries where domestic and international broadcasting deals are less valuable.

â??That throws a big rock at the business models of these leagues,â?? the FIFPRO official said.

Multi-nation leagues have long been discussed in Europe as a possible solution for mid-ranking countries which have some standout clubs but struggle to compete commercially with big-market rivals.

The Dutch and Belgian leagues, which both had to end their seasons early due to the health crisis, are seen as the most likely cross-border partners. No formal proposal has been made to European soccer body UEFA.

In 2016, newly elected UEFA president

he supported national leagues staying independent.

â??There is a need for a general overall economic conversation for the industry,â?? Baer-Hoffmann said Wednesday, looking ahead to a difficult year for players and their employers.

One team executive from Croatia

100 to 200 clubs could go bankrupt this year if their needs are not understood.

Baer-Hoffmann noted that in Scotland, 43% of soccer revenue was â??based on attendance at games.â??

FIFPRO has 65 affiliated national player unions worldwide, including in many countries where players get salaries comparable to national averages.

In seven - Botswana, Egypt, Colombia, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Uruguay - unions have helped provide food packages to players while soccer is shut down, Baer-Hoffmann said.

â??They are being stranded in terms of income,â?? he said, adding the vast majority of soccer players are â??under the same financial pressures as the rest of society.â??

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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