Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UEFA Euro 2020 summer football tournament was postponed and rescheduled for next year. Although this was frustrating for many betting companies, it also provided them with an opportunity to improve their offerings.
On a Stats Perform sponsored panel titled The Challenges with Euro 2020 on day two of Betting on Sports Europe – Digital 2020, industry professionals discussed what they had learned from this year’s European Championship postponement and what challenges could lie ahead in 2021 when the tournament is due to take place.
When the panel moderator Marc Thomas, a Partner at Propus Partners, quizzed panellists on whether the postponement of Euro 2020 was a blessing or a disruption for their companies, LV Bet Chief Commercial Officer Marcin Jablonski explained that his company tried to turn the loss of the tournament into an opportunity.
He said: “(The Euros postponement) was a huge loss, but at the same time, we tried to turn it into an opportunity. For operators, it’s a situation where you build up the strategy, the active customer base, the presence and brand exposure. At the same time, I know for a fact that things we’ve done could have been done better.
“I saw (the Euros postponement) as a tragedy from a business point of view. It was indeed very disappointing, but now we’ve already started rebuilding and preparing again for whatever outcome it’s going to be. We hope, obviously, that the event is going to happen in 2021 so we are acting as if the event is happening.
“If the event is cancelled again, the impact on the industry is going to be significant, but I think, in the end, we will survive and we will adapt.”
All the panel members, including Thomas, Jablonski, Betgenius’ Commercial Director James McKiernan, Setanta Sports Media CEO and Founder Lasha Machavariani, and Kaizen Gaming’s Head of Sportsbook Proposition Kostas Diorelis agreed that COVID-19 will still play a major role in how the Euros look next summer and that changes to the tournament may be required for it to take place.
When the panel members were asked if current format of the tournament, which will see games take place across multiple countries, needs to be changed due to the pandemic, Machavariani believes that UEFA should do something similar to the UFC and create their own version of Fight Island for the tournament to ‘minimise the risk’ of further COVID spread.
McKiernan is hoping that the Euros will go forward, but in order for that to happen, he explained that the tournament needs to be played ‘in a smaller number of countries’, similar to how the Champions League and Europa League competitions adapted to the pandemic earlier this year.
Diorelis said that we still ‘can’t be 100% sure it will take place’ but it most likely will happen. However, he added the tournament format ‘won’t be the same as it was announced’, agreeing to a similar line of thinking with McKiernan that the Euros should take place in ‘one or two countries’, based on the severity of the pandemic in those selected areas.
Jablonski was in agreement that ‘reducing the number of host cities and countries’ is the right way to go, adding that ‘football is only fun if safe’. However, he pointed out that he sees this as being a ‘logistical nightmare’ for UEFA to put all the teams in one area at the same time.
He also raised concerns over potential delayed games in domestic leagues causing issues for the Euros, but ultimately stated: “Everyone will appreciate it if the tournament can be played.”
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