Bangladesh football were looking at good days to come ahead. The men's national side were doing quite well and promising to do much more under the guidance of Jamie Day. Premier League decentralised to various parts of the country and was attracting large crowds.
Also, Bangladesh had four World Cup 2022 qualifiers ahead of them this year which meant a huge opportunity to test themselves against quality opposition. But all of that has come to a standstill because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Bangladesh has taken a serious hit from the coronavirus outbreak as the number of patients have already gone past five thousand and the death toll is into three figures.
Bangladesh have had four of their World Cup qualifiers postponed till date. They had home matches against Afghanistan, India and Oman on March 26, June 4 and June 9 respectively but all have been postponed for the time being. Also, the ongoing league campaign is in jeopardy as the clubs want the season to be dropped.
The Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) are also facing a huge financial crisis and they do not have a plan right now as the situation still requires further assessment.
League about to be cancelled
In a recent meeting between the BFF and the 13 clubs, the clubs asked to cancel the current Premier League season and start it off again when the situation comes back to normal.
The logic behind this decision was that only six rounds of the total 24 rounds have been played and it would not matter much if the season was cancelled.
A decision is yet to come but the chances of the league being dropped are high. League committee Salam Murshedi said that despite BFF wanting the league to resume after the situation returns to normal, the clubs want quite the opposite. He said, "We (BFF) want the league to continue from where it left off. But due to the current situation, the clubs want to disband the current season. We can not pass on the final judgement so we will send this matter to the executive committee of the board."
BFF General Secretary Abu Nayem Sohag told The Business Standard that not only the league but they had to scrape a lot of competitions because of the coronavirus situation.
"We had around 6-7 tournaments scheduled. The Premier League had to be suspended, the Championship could not even start. The school football league was going on, we had to shut it down. We were about to start the 'Bangabandhu National Championship' but that is when all our activities were suspended. We have shut down our camps, our World Cup qualifiers could not take place," Sohag informed TBS.
Huge financial crisis imminent
All the postponements have left BFF facing a huge financial crisis as they have to pay the bills despite little money coming through their income sources. Sohag told TBS that the whole footballing arena of Bangladesh was taking a serious hit from the crisis and with no football, earning has been tough for BFF.
"Actually, we need to determine the loss the pandemic is causing to our football rather than just the financial loss of BFF. We had different involvements. In Bangladesh football, earning from sponsors is a tough deal. And in a situation where there is no football, it becomes even tougher," Sohag told TBS.
He also informed that they have not yet calculated how big a loss they were facing but it could be around Tk 8-10 crores.
"If we count in everything and only think about BFF, then they are facing a minimum loss of around Tk 8-10 crores. And if we think about the whole Bangladesh football, taking all the clubs in consideration, we can not say the exact amount but it might rise up to around an estimated Tk 15-20 crores," said the BFF General Secretary.
He also added that the BFF does not have any plans yet as the current situation requires further assessment. Once they sort out the problems, the BFF will come out with a plan, Sohag implied.
"It is too early to make any comments or plans. First, we need to assess the situation properly. How much loss are we facing, how long this situation goes on, when will we be able to return football to the field - nobody has any answer to these yet. Once we can sort all this out, we will figure out a strategy to battle this," Sohag notified.