THE longer the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) lingers in the country, the more the PBA will continue to bleed.
This was the grim scenario offered by PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, saying the pandemic has already cost the pro league a big bundle of money that should run up to hundreds of millions of pesos more in the coming months.
“Malaki nalulugi sa atin. Padugo ng padugo ang PBA,” Marcial admitted to Malaya-Business Insight.
After playing just one game in the season-opening Philippine Cup last March 8, the PBA was forced to suspend all its games three days later due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The PBA board has convened online twice since and among the options it has on the table for the resumption was to play just two conferences instead of the usual three, as it has agreed to shorten the season.
That two-conference option became close to improbable following the government’s extension of the enhanced community quarantine until May 15, and with further extensions depending on the situation.
Should the ECQ be downgraded to a more lax general community quarantine, it still won’t make much difference for sports in general as it will still bar sports-related mass gatherings from taking place.
In their last online meeting last Saturday, the teams’ governors agreed to wait until August to decide the season’s future.
Meanwhile, the revenues which should have been generated by the PBA are now write offs.
Marcial declined from giving out an exact amount, but a usually reliable source said the continued cancellation of games and other activities is costing the PBA a minimum of P40 million a month.
“Those include not only gate receipts but also TV revenues and sponsorships,” explained the source.
Marcial did acknowledge that a re-constructing of deals made by the PBA is in order even if the league does resume in whatever format.
“Kapag nagsimula (ulit) ito (season), maragal pa bago tayo mabayaran,” Marcial pointed out.
“Siyempre, bago pa makakuha ng revenue mga iyon, iyung TV, sponsorships, kailangan ng panahon,” added Marcial.
“‘Yung mga sponsors nga, di natin alam kung papaano na, kung mag-ka-cut sila o hindi na muna sila. So iyon ang hindi natin malaman. Ang tingin namin parang start from scratch ulit liga.”
That is a big downer indeed to what should have been a grand celebration for the PBA’s 45th season with 15 to 20 companies, according to Marcial, previously set to join up.
“Madaming malalaking sponsors dapat this year,” said Marcial. “Ngayon di ko na alam. Kung kaya ba nila, mag-ti-tipid sila, huwag muna, next year na lang. Kasi siguradong tinamaan mga iyon nitong pandemic. Walang benta.”
Marcial, however, reiterated the PBA’s stance of making the sacrifice.
“Kasi nga, ang pinaka-importante safety ng everybody concerned, lalo na ng mga fans, ang unang priority ng PBA,” stressed Marcial.
“Tulad nga ng sinabi ni Boss RSA (San Miguel Corp. chief Ramon S. Ang), kung papipiliin siya between pera at buhay, sa buhay siya. Ganu’n din ang PBA.”