The global sports industry is set to miss out on almost $62bn (£50bn) of revenue this year as almost half of all sports events are scrapped due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The sector is forecast to generate $73.7bn of revenue in 2020 — roughly 45 per cent lower than the $135bn projected before the pandemic, according to sports marketing agency Two Circles.
The financial hit comes amid predictions that almost half of sports events scheduled for 2020 will not take place this year.
There were originally 49,803 major sports events planned this year, but social distancing measures rolled out to halt the spread of the virus has caused a large proportion to be postponed or cancelled.
As of 20 April, just 26,424 — or 53 per cent — of these events were still set to go ahead by the end of the year. In March only a third of scheduled events took place.
“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,” said Two Circles chief executive Gareth Balch.
“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.”
All English football fixtures have been called off until further notice, while Euro 2020 has been postponed until next year. Other major events to be shelved include the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Wimbledon and Formula 1.
While European countries are preparing a gradual easing of lockdown measures in the coming months, bans on large-scale gatherings are likely to remain in place for some time.
In Germany the Bundesliga is set to resume in May with only 240 people involved per game, while the Premier League is reportedly in talks to complete the season with games played behind closed doors.
The research predicted a staggered return of live sport in 2020 with a spike in events in September as leagues look to complete fixtures before the end of the year.
Despite the revenue hit, Balch said sport had proven to be “recession resilient” and would experience sustained growth after the pandemic has passed.
“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.