Hello from the FC Twente Skybox!

Wittenborg Sports Lecturer, Bas Schreurs, on the Future of the Sports Industry Post COVID-19

What a treat! Wittenborg students doing an IBA in Sports Business Management recently got a surprise when their online lecture was delivered from the stadium of Dutch premier league football club, FC Twente. Module lecturer, Bas Schreurs, happens to be the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) manager for the club and spoke to students from the stadium's E-Sports Box. In an interview he also shared his thoughts on the impact of COVID-19 on the billion-dollar sports industry and events like the 2020 Olympics and football World Cup.

Hi Bas, how did students like their unique "classroom"?

"The students found the location inspiring – the E-Sports skybox of a professional football organisation. The COVID-19 situation is having a huge impact on the sports business industry. It is, therefore, relevant in the module Strategic Changes in Sport Business Management and fits perfectly with Wittenborg's pillars of diversity, ethics and internationalisation."

In what ways did COVID-19 have an impact on the industry?

"Professional sport practice is often linked to spectators, sponsors and matches as an event. These regional, national and international sports events are the core of the business model of sports business organisations, because of the income generated from broadcasting rights, food and beverage sales, ticket sales, sponsors and merchandising revenues. The budget of professional sport businesses is primarily based on these incomes, in addition to the value of sports athletes.

"With COVID-19 billion-dollar international events like the Olympic Games and the football World Cup  are under pressure to continue and the stakeholders are contemplating when and where this can take place in the future.

"But we are not just talking about big events. Recreational sport is also affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Citizens cannot practise their favourite sports because of national and regional regulations. This can lead to negative side effects such as an increase in obesity, a rise in mental issues such as stress, an unhealthy lifestyle and social isolation."

What do you think will be done differently in the future and what are the opportunities?

"With the new COVID-19 regulations - and specifically the 1 to 1.5-metre social distance rule - the entire business model is under pressure because the costs remain but revenues are much lower as fewer fans and sponsors visit sports matches and or events.  

"There are three key strategic opportunities that sports organisations should consider to recover from the crisis while making a bold play for a thriving future:

  • How to help fans feel safe returning to live events.
  • How to leverage digital tools to support year-round fan engagement.
  • How these tools support a holistic, data-driven strategy for their business."

Will clubs be able to recover some of their losses?

"Sport businesses can recover from this crisis. However, this depends on the context, national regulations, creative new business models, and whether the organisation in question has a financial buffer or support from the national governing bodies, local and international sport leagues as well as associations. Some sports organisations will unfortunately go bankrupt."

Looking to the future, what are the current trends in sports?

"Current trends in the sports industry are new technologies such as the Video Assistant Referee and creating ecosystems in and around stadiums to reduce the ecological footprint of sport organisations in their environment.  

"Also, the influence of new, attractive sports such as extreme sports and E-sports for new generations. Traditional sports may come under pressure because of these developments. Social media has a lot of influence on sport businesses and marketing to reach all the stakeholders of each organisation. Growing individualisation has an impact on the choices of citizens in terms of which form and context they practise daily sports."

WUP 9/9/2020
by Anesca Smith
©Wittenborg University Press