Ouch! | Inquirer Sports


The Ateneo championship raked in millions, and the volleyball tournament would have done the same. —SHERWIN VARDELEON

The Philippine Superliga (PSL), like many leagues in the country and around the world, is preparing itself for financial repercussions following the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re talking about millions of pesos, definitely,” PSL president Dr. Ian Laurel told the Inquirer on Monday, when asked of losses the league is taking flush on the chin. “Let me put it this way: the PSL employs 400 to 500 people, that range. And the suspension has hampered people’s means of making a living.”The PSL last Friday suspended its games in accordance with the national government’s move to place Metro Manila under “community quarantine.”

Laurel said that the PSL was already gearing up for financial damages he pegs at around P2.5 to P5 million every game day.

A sudden turn of events, however, has put that forecast in overdrive. Malacañang on Monday afternoon has ordered an “enhanced quarantine,” which will have stingier restrictions across Luzon.

“It’s going to get bigger exponentially. Perhaps four, five-fold,” Laurel said.

And there are the team owners: “Obviously, they want more games because it’s more exposure for their companies, their brands. They’re also spending a lot when it comes to the operations of their teams.”

The Grand Prix is expectedly going to cost a lot more for the league’s eight teams, as each club is allowed to field a foreign reinforcement.

Laurel said that ideas have been floated to cut their losses, like sending the imports home for the meantime.

“There have been inquiries on the possibility of sending imports home,” he said. “Because when they’re here, teams pay for their expenses—lodging, food and transportation—and the reality is that you cannot utilize them for a month.”

However, Laurel said that he had requested to process things on a day-to-day basis. Although he said that a board meeting and a sit-down with team owners are being considered for next week.In that meeting, Laurel said, the PSL will examine whether it’s time to cancel the season altogether and send athletes home.“We’re calling for a meeting next week. We all know that this week will feature plenty of new announcements and changes when it comes to the policies of the government,” Laurel said.

“I told them to do it next week. At least by then, we’d have something more concrete to discuss.”

Laurel, who also serves as the league’s commissioner, said the effect is something that will be felt by all of PSL’s stakeholders, with television coverage taking a big hit, much in the same way that network giant ABS-CBN is losing millions with the suspension of volleyball action in the UAAP and the NCAA.

With volleyball out, ABS CBN is missing the chance to rake in millions in advertisements, although the source that the Inquirer talked to on Monday believes that the owner of the UAAP’s TV rights has more or less recouped the amount it paid the UAAP up front. “They (ABS CBN) could have more than made up for that in the basketball tournament alone,” said the source, who refused to be identified.The Inquirer source said that ABS-CBN has paid the UAAP the total sum of P400 million for the last five years for the rights to telecast all of their games, with that pact expiring at the end of this UAAP season. That rounds up to P80 million a year, or P8 million per participating school, and that is before the gate receipts are factored in.“We are sure that ABS-CBN has made that amount up already, and they have realized some profit after the basketball event,” the source, who was part of the negotiating team for the league five years ago, said. “But definitely, the volleyball tournament is a big money-making machine for the league in terms of gate receipts and for ABC [in terms of advertisements]. It would have been gravy for ABS-CBN.”

Rebo Saguisag, the UAAP executive director the Inquirer talked to in a separate interview, said the UAAP would device an “alternative format” just to continue the 82nd season.

“Maybe we can do a Fiba-style format or maybe a single-round eliminations, definitely the double-round is out of the question,” Saguisag said of the volleyball tournament.

“Sila ang nawalan (They’re the ones who lost a lot),” Saguisag said, referring to ABS-CBN.

The amount of money lost by schools, according to him, can’t be considered as actual loss of revenues.

“I don’t want to say it’s a loss. We don’t have to necessarily look at it that way,” he said. The scholarships given to student-athletes “are forms of help to secure their future.”

Laurel believes that PSL players are put in limbo with no practice venues and matches, affecting the athletes’ conditioning: “It will be a challenge for them to get in shape.”

Of course, there are the fans, whom Laurel said were given a glimpse of how “excitingly balanced the competition” is. INQ

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